Posted by: michaeldaybath | April 3, 2017

Private Ivan Day, 94th Battalion, Training Reserve

Church of St Gregory, Weare (Somerset)

Church of St Gregory, Weare (Somerset)

Today marks the centenary of the death of another of the men listed on the war memorial of the Bath and Wells Diocesan Association of Change Ringers, which can be found in Bath Abbey. Ivan (or Ivon*) Day was a bellringer at the Church of St Gregory, Weare, a village near Axbridge in Somerset.

Ivan George Day’s birth was registered in the Axbridge district in the third quarter of 1898. His parents were George Aubrey Day and Emma Jane Day (née Shepstone), who had married in the first quarter of 1897. Ivan had two younger siblings, Leonard Vernon Day (b. 1900) and Gwendoline Phyllis Day (b. 1907). George Aubrey Day was a brick and tile manufacturer in Weare, as had been his father Daniel before him. The 1901 Census lists George’s young family living at Brickyard House at Lower Weare. They were probably still living there in 1911, when the 12-year old Ivan is described as being at school.

The grave marker of Private I. G. Day, Weare (Somerset)

The grave marker of Private I. G. Day, Weare (Somerset)

At the time of his death, aged 18, Private Day was a member of the 94th Battalion of the Training Reserve [1]. At the beginning of the war, many infantry regiments maintained their own training units, but these were reorganised following the introduction of conscription in September 1916. At that time, the 94th Battalion took over from the 16th (Reserve) Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment.

The 16th (Reserve) Bn. of the Gloucestershires had been formed in November 1915 at Chiseldon Camp, just south of Swindon, Wiltshire. It is unclear exactly how Private Day died, although it seems most likely that he died of illness. Chiseldon didn’t have a particularly healthy reputation, and T. S. Crawford has recorded that that things were particularly bad in the spring and summer of 1917 [2]:

Between March and June 1917, thirty-four men died in the hospital, nine from cerebro-spinal fever, ten from pneumonia, fourteen from measles and one from heart disease.

The Commonwealth War Grave Commission (CWGC) database provides the names of 14 members of the 94th Battalion that died between March and June 1917, although it is not clear how many of these died in the military hospital at Chiseldon. From the locations where they were buried, it seems that the vast majority of the recruits were from the south west of England.

The name of I. G. Day on the Weare war memorial (Somerset)

The name of I. G. Day on the Weare war memorial (Somerset)

Private Day has a CWGC headstone in Weare churchyard. His name also appears on the village war memorial inside St Gregory’s Church and on the Rolls of Honour of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers (CCCBR).

Notes:

* Private Day’s name is given as “Ivon” in Soldiers Died in the Great War and the CCCBR Memorial Books.

References:

[1] CWGC database entry for TR7/7393 Private I. G. Day: http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/393920/

[2] T. S. Crawford, Wiltshire and the Great War: training the Empire’s soldiers, rev ed. (Ramsbury: Crowood Press, 2012), p. 187.

 

 

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