Posted by: michaeldaybath | January 18, 2017

Sapper Walter Stone, Royal Engineers

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Grave of Sapper W. Stone, St Michael’s Churchyard, Brent Knoll (Somerset)

In the churchyard of the Church of St Michael and All Angels, Brent Knoll (Somerset) is a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone in Portland Stone. It marks the burial place of 22249 Sapper W. Stone of the Royal Engineers, who died on the 18th January 1917 – one hundred years ago today.

I have not been able to discover a huge amount of information about the life and service career of Sapper Stone. The reason that I am interested in him is that, according to the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers Rolls of Honour, Walter Stone was a bellringer at the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Bleadon and a member of the Bath and Wells Diocesan Association of Change Ringers [1]. His name also features on the Association’s war memorial in Bath Abbey.

The CWGC database adds that Sapper Stone was part of the Inland Waterways and Docks companies of the Corps of Royal Engineers [2]. “Soldiers Died in the Great War” provides the additional information that Sapper Stone had been born at Lympsham, was resident at Brent Knoll, and that he had enlisted at Weston-super-Mare. On the cause of death (“how died”), the Soldiers Died database simply reads “died,” which usually means that the person concerned died of disease or other causes, accidental or natural. There also appears to be no medal index card, suggesting  (perhaps) that Sapper Stone never served overseas.

Armed with the information provided above, it was possible to trace a little bit more of Sapper Stone and his family through census returns and other records. For example, from the 1911 Census, we know that in April 1911, Walter Stone was a 31-year old painter and plumber, living at Brent Street, Brent Knoll, near Highbridge. He was married to the 49-year old Alice Stone, and they had three young children: Albert (7),  Florence (6), and Alice (4), all of whom had been born at Bristol and who were now at school. Also living with them at that time was Walter’s 19-year old stepson, Edgar Charman (a dairyman at a milk factory), and his sister-in-law, Kate Lintern.

The Lintern family came from Walcot, a suburb of Bath. Kate and Alice grew up there with  their parents, Saml and Sarah Lintern, and their extended family. Alice was born at Bath in 1861. By the time of the 1881 Census, she was aged 19 and working as a general servant. Alice married Frederick Charman at Bath in 1889, and the 1891 Census shows them living together at 5, Mount View, Walcot. A child, Edgar Charles, arrived in 1893. By 1901, the young family are living at 31, Tudor Road, Bristol, where Frederick is working as a milkman. Frederick died at Bristol in 1901. The following year, Alice Isabel Charman  married Walter Stone, also at Bristol. In the meantime, in 1901 Alice’s sister, Kate Lintern, had been working as a housemaid and was then resident at the home of Amelia Everett at Springfield Place, Bath.

Walter Stone had been born at Lympsham in 1880. The 1881 and 1891 censuses finds him living at Batch, Lympsham with his parents, George and Ellen Stone, and his brothers and sisters. George Stone was described as a coal merchant. By the time of the 1901 Census, Walter was 21-years old and working away from home as a journeyman painter, boarding with the Hill family at West End, Bruton (Somerset). As we have seen, a decade later he was married to Alice and had three children, was working as a painter and plumber, and had moved back to Brent Knoll. A Walter Stone of the appropriate age joined the Bedminster Lodge of the General Union of Operative Carpenters and Joiners’ Society in May 1899, but it is not possible to be certain that this was the same person without some other confirmation. Walter’s parents continued living at Lympsham until their deaths in 1909 (George) and 1910 (Ellen).

We do not know exactly how Walter Stone died. He would have been around 36 years of age at the date of his death, depending on his exact date-of-birth. If my identification in the BMD records is correct, his widow Alice died in 1940, at the age of 79.

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Part of the Somerset Light Infantry panel of the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme (France)

Interestingly, Walter’s stepson Edgar also served in the First World War and he also died in 1917. He was 9925 Private Edgar Charles Charman of the 7th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry. He died on the 1st May 1917, aged 24, and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. The CWGC entry describes him as the son of Mrs. Alice Isabel Stone (formerly Charman), of Pear Tree Cottage, Brent Knoll, Somerset [3]. Sapper Stone and Private Charman’s names also appears on the war memorials at Brent Knoll.

References:

[1] CCCBR Rolls of Honour: http://www.cccbr.org.uk/rolls/

[2] CWGC database: 22249 Sapper Walter Stone: http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/393909/

[3] CWGC database: 9925 Private Edgar Charles Charman: http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1543298/

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