Pittville’s First World War Casualties
The following soldiers with connections to Pittville lost their lives during the First World War. We’ll be adding to this list as more are identified. We are grateful to David Drinkwater, and to Geoff Ratcliffe of Cheltenham Remembers, for kindly providing information for this article. Further details about Cheltenham soldiers who died in the war can be found in Leaving All That Was Dear: Cheltenham and the Great War, Joseph Devereux and Graham Sacker (Promenade Publications: 1997).
Harold Barratt, brother of John Barratt (below), whose family lived at Fernbank, Pittville Circus Road (now part of Berkhampstead School), died of wounds at Salonika on 18 May 1917, aged 21. He was a second lieutenant in the Gloucestershire regiment and is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.
John Barratt, brother of Harold Barratt (above) and a lieutenant in the Army Service Corps, died of diphtheria at Etaples, France, on 25 January 1919, aged 25. His parents lost two sons in the space of twenty months. He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.
Archie Bayley, whose family lived at Selkirk House, Prestbury Road, was a corporal serving with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. When he was wounded in June 1916 the Gloucestershire Echo reported that he had been in the trenches for seventeen months. He died on 9 October 1916 in France. He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.
Samuel Walter Billings was the only son of Samuel Bruce and Frances Anne Billings. He was born in Cheltenham in 1879 and lived during his early years with his family at 5 Wellington Square and then at 9 (now 51) Pittville Lawn. Like his father, he was a solicitor, practising at North Street Bank Chambers in Cheltenham, and was known as a leading local chess-player. After joining the Universities and Public Schools Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, he was posted to France and died of wounds received in action on 3 January 1916. He is buried in Bethune Town Cemetery.
Eben Boyle’s mother lived at 6 Clarence Square. He died from wounds towards the end of the war in 1918. Earlier that year the Gloucestershire Echo had reported the award to him of the Military Cross, as follows: “A recipient of the Military Cross at the Investiture at Buckingham Palace on the 6th inst. was Lieut. Eben Archibald Boyle … The award was made for keeping his lines of communication in order and frequently repairing them under severe shell fire during the battle of Vimy Ridge, April 9th to 19th, 1917. Lieut. Boyle joined up in Canada at the commencement of the war and came over with the 1st Canadian Division in October, 1914, going out to France in February, 1915. He quickly gained promotion in the ranks and was promoted to lieutenant on the field, being gazetted on the 1st January, 1917, since when he has acted as signalling officer to the 8th Canadian Battalion. He has taken part in several battles, including Ypres, Vimy Ridge, Hill 70, and Passchendaele, and has so far been lucky to escape wounds and sickness. Lieut. Boyle left Cheltenham some years ago to work in Birmingham, and took up an appointment in Canada some eight or nine years back.” He is commemorated on the War Memorial in the Promenade.
Frank Brandt was a naval captain and the son of Mr F. Brandt of Kirkella (formerly Berkeley Hall, now North Hall), in Pittville Circus Road. He was presumed lost on board HMS Monmouth, which was sunk in the Battle of Coronel, off Chile, on 1 November 1914. This was the first naval defeat suffered by Britain in the war, and its first anywhere in the world for over a century. He is commemorated on the War Memorial in the Promenade.
Douglas Burgoyne-Wallace joined the Indian Army in 1912 after attending Cheltenham College and Sandhurst. His regiment left India for the Persian Gulf shortly after the outbreak of war and he was killed there in March 1915. His family lived at Beechmount, Pittville Circus Road (now part of Berkhampstead School). He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.
Douglas Clee lived at Saxony House (24 Prestbury Road) and was the son of Edward Charles Clee, a tailor, and his wife Mary. He was educated at Cheltenham Grammar School and served with the Army Ordnance Corps, seeing service in Gallipoli. He was discharged and joined the Royal Flying Corps (which in time merged with the Royal Naval Air Service to become the Royal Air Force). He died on 3 February 1919, at the age of 29, as a result of shell shock incurred while serving in France. He is commemorated on the War Memorial in the Promenade.
Reginald Cole was the son of Mr and Mrs A.N. Cole of Clarence Square who ran “The Famous”, the well-known Cheltenham outfitters. He died on 12 May 1915, aged 22. The Gloucestershire Echo (17 May 1915) reported as follows: “News has been received by Mr. and Mrs. A. N. Cole, of 12 Clarence-square, and “The Famous”, High-street, Cheltenham, that their son, Pte. Reginald Wm. Cole, aged 22, who was serving with the 1/5th Gloucesters in France, has been killed by a hand grenade whilst on sentry duty. The news will cause the deepest regret in Cheltenham, where the father of the young soldier is one of the best known tradesmen and Christian workers. Educated at Northampton House and Belmore House Schools, Reginald Cole was a high-minded young fellow who had the reputation of detesting mean and base ideals. He was an excellent young sportsman, good at football, hockey, and swimming. Having served his apprenticeship at Field, Hawkins & Co.’s, Wallingford, he returned to Cheltenham and joined his father’s staff at “The Famous”, where he had been for the last five years before the outbreak of war. Two and a half years ago he joined the Territorials, and passed through the machine-gun section. He proceeded to camp with the 1/5th Gloucesters immediately upon the general mobilisation, and he was one of the great majority who volunteered for foreign service. Although keenly devoted to duty, he had no care for promotion, preferring, he said in his letters, to stay with the rank and file – a feeling common in such a battalion as the 1/5th Gloucesters, where all are chums. All his letters home have been full of hope. “Don’t worry,” he repeatedly wrote, “I shall be all right.” He will be deeply regretted by the staff at “The Famous”, where he was highly popular, and by very many friends in the town. Mr. Cole has, we believe, another son in the Territorials, and since the war he himself has been doing yeoman service for the Forces, especially the Canadians, in the Y.M.C.A tent at one of the great camps on Salisbury Plain.”
Leonard Cox, whose family lived at Northfield Terrace, was a private in the Essex Regiment. He was killed on 1 September 1918 at Arras, aged 26. He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.
Herbert Craddock, whose family lived at the Sudeley Arms, was a lieutenant in the Royal Air Force and died in a flying accident at Rendcombe Aerodrome in November 1918. He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade. The Cheltenham Chronicle reported: “Lieut. Craddock was very well known, and from boyhood was very fond of sport in all its branches. He was a fair athlete, good on the running track and at Rugby football, and an excellent swimmer. In later years he joined the Gloucestershire Yeomanry, and he was one of the regiment who went out to Gallipoli, where he was wounded. Subsequently he joined the Royal Flying Corps, obtaining a commission, and it was whilst performing his duties in connection therewith that he met his death.”
Arthur and Hunter Forbes were career soldiers, the sons of Colonel George Forbes of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, who lived in Pittville Lawn. Both served in the Indian Army, Arthur as a major and Hunter as a captain, and they died within weeks of each other in April 1916: Arthur was 35 and Hunter was 29. The Gloucestershire Chronicle for 29 April 1916 reported as follows: “Major Forbes gained his commission in the West India Regiment in 1902, having served two years in the ranks, and in 1903 was gazetted to the Indian Army. Major Forbes saw active service in the South African War, winning the Queen’s medal with three clasps and the King’s medal with two clasps. Captain Hunter Forbes … was educated at Cheltenham College, and passed from there to Sandhurst in 1903. He received a commission in the K.O.S.B. in 1906, and afterwards entered the Indian Army.” Arthur is commemorated on the War Memorial in the Promenade.
Edward Gammon lived at 9 Northfield Terrace. He was a private in the 4th Worcestershire regiment and died on 5 June 1915.
Lionel Goodeve attended Cheltenham College and Sandhurst, and was a major in the Royal Scots Fusiliers. His family lived at Hawksworth, 26 Albert Road. He was killed in action on 25 August 1915, aged 33. He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.
Alexander Gulland, a captain in the East Kent Regiment, died on 16 June 1917, aged 26, of wounds received in action in France. He was the son of Surgeon-General and Mrs Gulland of Malvern Hill House, East Approach Drive.
Kenneth Gurney was a second lieutenant in the Gloucestershire Regiment. His family lived at 12 Wellington Square and he read law at Oxford, where he rowed for his college. He was a solicitor in London before joining up. He was wounded on 2 December 2017 during a German attack on the Western Front and died as a prisoner of war on 17 December 1917.
Guy Handley was the son of Mr and Mrs F. F. Handley of Handley Cross, Albert Road. He was awarded the Military Cross in 1916 when he was a temporary lieutenant in the Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment. He died in August 1918, aged 33. A joint memorial service for him and for Lionel Bruce Maby of Marle Hill House (see below) was held at All Saints’ Church in October 1918.
James Hattersley-Smith was a lance-corporal in the Norfolk Regiment and died on 7 October 1915 in France. His family lived at Glenfall Lawn, Pittville Circus. The Gloucester Journal wrote "Although 38 years old, he was one of the first to respond to his country’s call. He refused all offers of a commission, and enlisted in the 9th Norfolk Regiment, hoping thereby to get to the front more quickly." He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.
Geoffrey Hattersley-Smith was the younger brother of James Hattersley-Smith (see above) and was a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, having joined straight from Cheltenham College. He died of dysentery in the Royal Naval Hospital at Devonport in November 1915, aged 26, just a month after the death of his brother. He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.
Hugh Stowell Hellings, whose family lived at 35 Clarence Square, was a private in the 1st Canadian Pioneers. He died in June 1916 from wounds received in action in Flanders. The Gloucestershire Echo wrote: "Educated at Pate’s Grammar School, Cheltenham, and an engineer by profession, he went out to Canada about eight years ago and was engaged on the Grand Trunk Railway to the Pacific until its completion at the end of last year, when he went down to Winnipeg and enlisted. He was in Cheltenham on leave at Christmas, and he went to the Front in February. He participated in the furious fighting in which the Canadians won so much glory on June 1st and 2nd, and came through unscathed. The young soldier – he was about 27 years of age – was a fine specimen of manly physique, a bright, dashing fellow, and a splendid shot." He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.
Francis Holmes’s mother lived at Evesham House, Wellington Road. Francis Holmes was born in 1887 and was a career soldier in the South Staffordshire Regiment, promoted to lieutenant in 1909. He was killed in action early in the conflict in 1914, at the age of 27. He is commemorated on the War Memorial in the Promenade.
Walter Jones was a petty officer in the Royal Navy. In 1911 he was a plumber, lodging in Northfield Terrace. He died in battle in the North Sea in May 1917, aged 34. He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.
Noel Lake was a lieutenant in the Gloucestershire Regiment. His family lived at St Arvans, Evesham Road. He was killed in action in France in March 1918, aged 23. The Gloucestershire Echo writes: "He was at Cheltenham College from 1907 to 1912, in which year he took a high place at the examination for the Royal Marines, but failed in the medical examination on account of his eyesight. He then entered the firm of Messrs. Turner, of Liverpool, with whom he remained until September, 1914, when he enlisted into the Public Schools Battalion, Middlesex Regt. He was given a commission in the Gloucester Regt. In June, 1915, and proceeded to the front in August, 1916, where he served altogether about a year and a half. His senior officer writes saying that he never met anyone more cool and fearless." He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.
Lawrence Newbery-Boschetti was a lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve. He lived at Flat 3, Napier House, Pittville Lawn and died on 26 October 1918, aged 34.
Robert Lawrence-Townsend, whose family lived at Terhill, Pittville Circus, died on 2 March 1918, aged 44. He was educated at Cheltenham College and was a career soldier; at the time of his death he was a captain in the 5th Middlesex regiment.
Reginald (Rex) Lyon lived in Prestbury Road. His obituary in the Cheltenham Chronicle for 25 August 1917 reads as follows: “Lieut. Reginald Anthony Lyon, of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, who has fallen in recent fighting, was the son of Mr. Thomas Lyon, of 17 Pittville-villas, a much-respected Cheltonian, who is one of the professional staff of St. Paul’s Training College, and a member of the Cheltenham Education Committee. Twenty-seven years of age, he was educated at the Cheltenham Grammar School, and was head of the Sixth Form when he left, as well as captain of both the cricket and football teams. An excellent athlete, he was of fine build and proportions, standing six feet high. After leaving school he was for four years in the offices of Messrs. Chatters and Smithson, architects, of Cheltenham, whom he left to take up a position under one of the Yorkshire County Councils. As early as the age qualification permitted he had joined the Territorials in Cheltenham, and in one of the local companies obtained sergeant’s rank and qualified for Bisley, for he was an excellent shot. When he went to Yorkshire he transferred to a Yorkshire Territorial battalion, and with this he was in training when the war broke out. An evidence of his instant alacrity to answer the call of his country is found in the fact that he actually enlisted for general service on the Saturday before the declaration of war, for it being clear that such a catastrophe was imminent, a number of the members of his battalion, he amongst them, offered their services at a time when in the ‘sleepy hollows’ war was still though impossible. Quickly working through all the non-commissioned grades, he was specially recommended for a commission after a senior officer’s course at Chelsea, in which he was first in military topography and fifth in military engineering; and in less than three months from the outbreak of the war he had received his second-lieutenancy. For a considerable time he was engaged upon important duties at home, but at his own urgent request he was at last permitted to go to the front, for his ardent desire was to serve his country in the firing line. In the meantime he had been promoted lieutenant. At the time of his death he was acting-captain, his captain having been gassed and sent back. He himself was gassed a few days before his death, but returned to his regiment. How he met with his death is not yet known by his relations, but that his end was worthy of the gallant fellow that he was need not be doubted. Of a loveable disposition, he was held in much esteem by his sporting and military comrades in Cheltenham, as well as by his many friends in private life. Writing home a short time since, he said: ‘My motto is ‘Always merry and bright’, that is how I live, and that is how I should wish to die.’ Deep sympathy will be felt with Mr. and Mrs. Lyon in their loss, and also with Lieut. Lyon’s young widow, for he was married but a few months ago to a young Cheltenham lady, Miss Clark, then of Naunton-crescent. Two brothers of the deceased officer are serving, one in the Army and the other in the Navy.” He is commemorated on the War Memorial in the Promenade.
Sidney Mansbridge was a private in the New Zealand Forces. His family lived at Pittville Villas (now Prestbury Road), and he attended Pate’s Grammar School. He was killed in action in France in August 1918, aged 30. He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.
Lionel Bruce Maby was the son of Mr and Mrs Joseph Maby of Marle Hill House. He was a second lieutenant in the Scots Guards and was killed on 12 September 1918, aged 20, when he was struck on the head by a shell fragment. The Cheltenham Looker-On (21 September 1918) said “while at the College the young officer was Senior Prefect; editor of The Cheltonian; and, in 1916, was in the Football XV. In the latter year he went to Sandhurst from which he passed with a brilliant record, and went to France in March last.” A joint memorial service for him and for Guy Handley of Handley Cross (see above) was held at All Saints’ Church in October 1918.
Bernard Montagnon was a lieutenant in the Canadian machine Gun Corps and died in France in November 1917, aged 29. His family lived in Wellington Square. The Gloucester Journal writes: “[He] was educated at Cheltenham College, and after service on the teaching staff of one of the local preparatory schools he went to Canada to take up a position as master at the Toronto Military College. Upon the outbreak of the war he joined the Canadian Expeditionary Forces as a private, receiving a commission in June of 1915. He was for a time machine gun instructor at the Canadian schools in England, and then, at his own request, went to France to take part in the actual fighting, in which he nobly fell. While following his civil profession in Cheltenham the deceased rendered good service to the Town Cricket Club.” He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.
Claud Percival was a major in the Rifle Brigade. His family lived in Pittville Crescent. He was killed in action in December 1914, aged 42. He had previously seen extensive service in Africa. He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.
Arthur Powell was a lieutenant commander in the Royal Navy. His family lived at Segrave Place (Pittville Lawn). He died in June 1919, aged 34. He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.
Gwilliam Ross lived at 37 Clarence Square and before joining up had worked for the City Surveyor in Gloucester. He was a second lieutenant in the Gloucestershire regiment and was killed in action on July 3 1916, aged 25, just one month after his marriage. He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.
Noel Russell was a second lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery. His family lived at Pittville House, Wellington Road. He was educated at Cheltenham College and left the college to go straight into military service in July 1917. He died at a casualty clearing station in France in September 1918, aged 19, as the result of a shell wound. He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.
Reginald Sherwood was a private in the Royal West Kent regiment. He died in hospital in January 1917, aged 24. He was a baker and his family lived at Northfield Terrace. He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.
Eric Simpson lived at Kingsmuir, Pittville Circus. He was killed in action in Egypt in April 1916. His death was reported as follows in the Gloucestershire Echo for 6 May 1916: “News has been received of the death in action on Easter Sunday of Trooper Eric H. Simpson, aged 20, and the son of Police-Constable M.T. Simpson, of Kingsmuir, Pittville, Cheltenham. As a youth he served his apprenticeship with Mr. A. N. Cole, of ‘The Famous’ clothing establishment, and developed into a smart assistant after removing to Witney, and then to Blinkhorn’s at Gloucester, where he joined the R.G.H. [the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars] Yeomanry. He quickly went ahead, and, to the surprise of his friends, was drafted to the fighting line very quickly. His loss will be deeply regretted by a large circle of friends. This is the second death among the assistants of ‘The Famous’.” He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.
Edward Southcomb was a second lieutenant in the Manchester regiment. Before joining up at the beginning of 1916 he lived at Pittville Parade (Evesham Road) and worked for the National Provincial Bank in Cheltenham. He died in action in France in July1917, aged 22. He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade and his name is also on the Menin Gate at Ypres.
Henry Thomson was a major in the Royal Warwickshire regiment. He was educated at Cheltenham College and was a career soldier, having entered his regiment in 1898. His family lived at Ellingham House, Pittville Lawn. He died of wounds in March 1917, aged 39. He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.
Francis Thoyts was a major in the Somerset Light Infantry. He was educated at Marlborough and Sandhurst and was a career soldier. He died of wounds in a German field hospital on 26 August 1914, aged 44, in the first month of the conflict, after having been taken prisoner. He lived at Berkeley House, Pittville Lawn, the home of his wife’s family. He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.
Edward Walters was a second lieutenant in the Gloucestershire regiment. He was killed in action in France in December 1914, aged 24. He was educated at Cheltenham College and read classics at Oxford. His family lived at Southern House, Albert Road. He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.
Stephen Whateley (photograph right), of Wyddrington House, Pittville Lawn, was a captain in the Royal Munster Fusiliers. He died of wounds in October 1918, aged 28.
Harry Marrion Welstead (1860-1915) had retired from the Army in 1908, after many years' decorated service with the Leicestershire Regiment from 1881 (rising to Major in 1902). At the outbreak of WW2 he offered his services again to the Army, and was appointed temporary Lieutenant-Colonel in command of the 9th Service Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers. He was the son of Arthur Henry and Gertrude Amelia Welstead, and at the time of the 1881 census lived at Selkirk Lawn in Pittville; latterly he had been living in British Columbia. He was killed in action with his regiment at the Dardanelles (Turkey) on 7 August 1915.
Cyril Winterbotham is depicted in the centre of Cheltenham’s WWI memorial painting, which was commissioned after the war by his sister Clara. The Winterbotham family had owned and/or occupied a large number of properties in Pittville from 1835 onwards. When war broke out Cyril was practising as a barrister in London. He had been selected as the Liberal candidate for the constituency of Cirencester and had a promising political future. As a Lieutenant in the 5th Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment he wrote regular letters to his widowed mother at Cranley Lodge, Wellington Square, over 120 of which are in a collection at the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum. Cyril was killed in action on 27 August 1916 at Thiepval, during the battle of the Somme, and his name is listed on the Thiepval memorial to soldiers missing in action. He wrote about his experience of war in a journal and in poems; his poem Cross of Wood appeared first in a battalion magazine in July 1916 and was published in the Cheltenham Chronicle the day before his death. It was subsequently published in several war poetry anthologies.
The Gloucester Journal reported his death as follows: “We regret to record that Lieut. Cyril William Winterbotham, youngest son of the late Alderman J. B. Winterbotham and of Mrs. Winterbotham, of Cranley Lodge, Cheltenham, the prospective Liberal candidate for the Cotswold Division, was killed in action with the Gloucesters on Saturday. The gallant officer, who was born in Cheltenham on February 27th, 1887, and was educated at Cheltenham College and at Lincoln College, Oxford, entered the Inner Temple in 1908 and was called to the Bar in due course, subsequently taking the Oxford Circuit. Holding strongly the Liberal faith, in which he had been born and nurtured, he accepted the cordial invitation of the Cirencester Liberal Association to become their candidate in September of 1913 and in the following spring he undertook political campaign on the hills he loved so well, which gave every hope of a successful result. This, however, was not to be, as on the outbreak of the war in the autumn of 1914 Mr. Winterbotham was one of the first to recognise that party divisions must be set aside and a united front, both at home and abroad, must be shown to the enemy. Accordingly, after taking part in recruiting meetings with his political opponent, he himself enlisted in the Gloucesters in September of that year, and in June, 1915, was appointed temp. Lieutenant. In October he suffered from a shell wound in the leg, and until recently had been serving on the staff. He went back to his regiment to meet his untimely end, after having received the offer of a permanent appointment on the staff, which he had intended later to accept. Much sympathy will go out to his widowed mother and the other members of the family in their sore bereavement.” He is commemorated on the war memorial in the Promenade.