Posted by: michaeldaybath | December 18, 2017

Private William Henry Fudge, 2/4th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry

Church of All Saints, Trull (Somerset)

Church of All Saints, Trull (Somerset)

After the Third Battle of Gaza in late October 1917, the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) moved northwards, deeper into Palestine. By late November, after victories at Mughal Ridge and Junction Station, attention turned to the capture of Jerusalem. but attacks on Ottoman defensive positions near Nebi Samwil, in the hills to the north of the city on the 17th to 24th November, met with fierce resistance. Eventually, however, the city of Jerusalem surrendered on the 9th December. Two days later, on the 11th December 1917, General Allenby famously entered the city of Jerusalem on foot via the Jaffa Gate.

To the north, XXI Corps — led by the 52nd (Lowland), the 54th (East Anglian), and 75th Divisions — then prepared to capture Ottoman positions at Nahr el Auja, north of Jaffa. In the build up to what became known as the Battle of Jaffa, 202688 Private William Henry Fudge of the 2/4th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry (part of 75th Division) was killed in action. Private Fudge was also a bellringer at St Mary Magdalene, Taunton and a member of the Bath and Wells Diocesan Association of Change Ringers.

202688 Private William Henry Fudge, 2/4th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry

William Henry Fudge was born at Trull, near Taunton in the 4th quarter of 1887, the son of Walter and Henrietta Sophia Fudge. William first features in the 1891 Census as a three-year-old child, living at Frog Street, Trull, near Taunton, with his parents and two siblings, Minnie (aged 6) and Ernest (aged under one year). The family, including William, is still living in Frog Street (Hawlett Scattered Houses) at the time of the 1901 Census, where William is now the eldest of five children still living at home and a thirteen-year-old errand boy. At the time of the 1911 Census, the family are still living at Trull (Comeystrowe), where William is 23 years old and now a stamper in a collar-making factory.

Trull War Memorial (Somerset)

Trull War Memorial (Somerset)

In the 4th quarter of 1914, William married Elizabeth Collier in the Taunton registration district. Elizabeth (Bessie) was the daughter of Robert Collier and Caroline Collier (née Doble). At the time of the 1891 Census, Robert Collier was working as a railway labourer, but he died in 1900. In 1901, the widowed Caroline was working as a nurse (general) and was resident at Rose Cottage, Sunnybank, Rowbarton, which was within the civil parish of St James, Taunton. Living with Caroline were five children, including the 7-year-old Elizabeth Collier, and three boarders. At the time of the 1911 Census, the Collier family were still living at Rowbarton, but now at 22, Thomas Street, a terraced street just north of Taunton railway station. Caroline is now described as a 59-year-old midwife, certified by the Central Midwives Board (CMB), and working on her own account. Four of Caroline’s children were still living with her, the oldest being Lucy (aged 27), a collar ironer, and Charles (25), a boiler worker based at the Great Western Railway (GWR) locomotive works. The two youngest children both worked for a shirt and collar factory, Ethel (21) as a shirt machinist and Bessie (19) as a buttonholer. Also living with them at that time were two boarders that were engine cleaners at the GWR locomotive works: Arthur Stockman (aged 26), who had been born at Castle Cary (Somerset) and William Henry Tuck (17), from West Bromwich (Staffordshire).

William’s father, Walter Fudge, had been born at Pitminster, near Taunton, and by 1891 was working as carpenter and wheelwright. In all, Walter and Henrietta Sophia Fudge had seven children, all of whom were still alive at the time of the 1911 Census: Minnie, William Henry, Ernest, Henry (Harry), Henrietta Mary, and Stanley Walter.

Church of St Mary Magdalene, Taunton (Somerset)

Church of St Mary Magdalene, Taunton (Somerset)

Soldiers Died in the Great War records that 202688 Private William Henry Fudge of the 2/4th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry was killed-in-action on the 18th December 1917. He is buried in Ramleh War Cemetery. Ramleh (now Ramla) was occupied by the Egyptian Expeditionary Force at the beginning of November 1917 and very soon came a base for Field Ambulances and Casualty Clearing Stations.

The 2/4th Somerset Light Infantry

The 4th and 5th Battalions of Prince Albert’s (Somerset Light Infantry) were units of the Territorial Force. On the 9th October 1914, the first-line battalions of both — the 1/4th and 1/5th Somersets= Light Infantry — sailed with other units of the Wessex Division to India. Back in Somerset, effort then turned to the formation of second-line battalions. The 2/4th Somerset Light Infantry formed at Prior Park in Bath and, after reaching strength, followed the other battalions to India on the 12th December 1914. The battalion served for a while in the Andaman Islands in 1915, but returned to the Indian mainland in January 1916. The battalion then spent over a year in India as garrison troops, but also provided occasional drafts for the 1/4th Somersets in Mesopotamia. The situation changed in September 1917, when the 2/4th Somersets moved to join the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) in Palestine.

Arriving at Suez, the 2/4th Somersets moved first to Kantara and then marched to the British lines in front of Gaza. On arrival, the battalion became part of the 232nd Infantry Brigade, which was part of the 75th Division. The Division was made up of a mixture of British and Indian Army units. For example, the infantry battalions in the 232nd Brigade in late 1917 were the 1/5th Devonshire Regiment, the 2/5th Hampshire Regiment, the 2/4th Somersets, and the 2/3rd Gurkha Rifles.

As part of the 75th Division, the 2/4th Somersets had taken part in the Battle of Nabi Samwil towards the end of November 1917. The 75th Division was then relieved and moved to the coastal plains west of Jerusalem. the regimental history of the Somerset Light Infantry [1] records that the 2/4th Somersets operated mostly in a support role throughout the month of December, while other units in 232nd Brigade led the advance.

From 27th November to the end of the month the 2/4th Somersets remained at El Mughar, the only incident of importance being the arrival of much-needed reinforcements, i.e. four officers and 171 rank and file. On 1st December the battalion moved to El Kubeibeh, remaining there until the 7th when a move was made to Ramleh, the 2/4th bivouacking in an orchard some 400 yards south-west of Crusaders’ Church. On 9th the Battalion lent an officer and nine other ranks to the 2/3rd Gurkhas for observation purposes. On this day also the Battalion, after leaving A Company to guard the guns, marched to the eastern side of the wadi between Deir Abu Selameh in Brigade Reserve and bivouacked for the night, B Company going out on outpost duty on a hill three-quarters of a mile east of Selameh. On the 10th C and D Companies were at work on the roads beyond Hadithen.

[…]

Although continually in reserve or support and occasionally taking over front-line positions from other units of the 232nd Brigade as it advanced, the 2/4th Somersets do not appear to have been involved in any fighting with the enemy during the latter part of December. On the 11th, while other units of the Brigade took Midien, Zebdah, Budrus and Sheikh Obeid Rahil, C and D Companies were attached to the 2/3rd Gurkhas, D Company going forward and occupying a hill on a line between Haditheh and a point midway between Sheikh Obeid Rahil and Budrus, the attack passing right and left of (and being covered by) D Company’s position. In successive stages the Battalion moved forward to Mukam Iman el Aly, Sheikh Obeid Rahil, Bornat and Horse Shoe Hill. It was at the latter place that the 2/4th were relieved by the 1/5th [Somersets, in 233 Brigade] and moved back to bivouacs at Surafend.

It is not clear from this account how two members of the 2/4th Somersets were killed in action on the 18th December 1917.

War Memorial plaque, Church of St Mary Magdalene, Taunton (Somerset)

War Memorial plaque, Church of St Mary Magdalene, Taunton (Somerset)

War memorials

Private William Henry Fudge’s name appears on numerous war memorials in and around Taunton, e.g. on the main town war memorial in Vivary Park and the tablet memorials in the Churches of St James and St Mary Magdalene (oddly, his surname is spelled “Fuge” on both the town and St James memorials). His name also appears on the war memorial cross in the churchyard of the Church of All Saints, Trull, and the Bath and Wells Diocesan Association Memorial in Bath Abbey.

Bellringers' memorial plaque, Church of St Mary Magdalene, Taunton (Somerset)

Bellringers’ memorial plaque, Church of St Mary Magdalene, Taunton (Somerset)

Additionally, a plaque in the tower of the Church of St Mary Magdalene in Taunton records that the bells of that church were augmented to a ring of twelve and rehung in 1922, with one bell donated in memory of the four bellringers from Taunton that died in the war: W. H. Fudge, W. A. Fowler, S. A. Phillips, and H. Van Trump. Their names were also cast as an inscription on the memorial bell itself. The bells were replaced earlier this year (2017) by a new ring of twelve cast by J. Taylor & Co. (Loughborough), but the memorial bell has been retained and hung by Taylor’s on a movable oak stand.

War Memorial, Church of St James, Taunton (Somerset)

War Memorial, Church of St James, Taunton (Somerset)

Incidentally, another name commemorated on several of the Taunton war memorials is 36311 Private Thomas Doble Collier of the 2nd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment. Thomas was the older brother of Elizabeth Fudge, and thus William Fudge’s brother-in-law. Some additional information on Thomas is available from the Church of St James’s World War 1 Memorial Project [2]:

In 1909, aged 21, Thomas married 19 year old Katurah Wilmington.  In the 1901 census Katurah was a servant in the home of Andrew Gray, the manager of the paper mill at Creech St Michael.  In 1910 they had a son, Leslie Charles.  In 1911 they are listed as living in Yarde Place, Wood Street, with Thomas working as a store labourer and Katurah as a shirt maker.
As part of the 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment, Thomas would have been attached to 100th Brigade of the 33rd Division serving on the Western Front.  The 33rd Division took part in the Arras Offensive, which included the Second battle of the Scarpe on 23rd April 1917.  It was during this battle, when the British launched an attack from Wancourt to Vis-en-Artois, that Thomas was killed in action.

201768 Private Henry Archibald Evry, 2/4th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry

Another member of the 2/4th Somersets that was killed-in-action in Palestine on the 18th December was 201768 Private Henry Archibald Evry.

St Catherine's, near Batheaston: Church of St Catherine (Somerset)

St Catherine’s, near Batheaston: Church of St Catherine (Somerset)

Henry Archibald Evry was born at St Catherine’s, Bath (a very beautiful spot north of Batheaston) in the 3rd quarter of 1896, the son of Henry Alfred and Adelaide Evry (née Harding). At the time of the 1901 Census, Henry Archibald was the eldest of three children and living with his parents at St Catherines. The family was still living at St Catherine’s (Small Tynings) in 1911, while Archibald was 14-years-old and now the eldest of five children, also including: Reginald (13), Irene (11), Alfred (7), and Daniel (6).

Henry Archibald Evry’s father and grandfather were both named Henry and were market gardeners. Archibald’s grandfather lived at Sandy Bank Farm, Northend, and was for a time licensee of the (long-closed) Sandy Bank Inn. At the time of her death in 1934, aged 87, Archibald’s grandmother, Mary Ann Evry, was the oldest resident of St Catherines [3]. Archibald’s parents celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 1945. Oddly enough, the report in the Bath Chronicle [4] does not seem to mention Archibald at all (and I have been unable to discover anything about the son killed in an aeroplane accident).

WED FIFTY YEARS
Batheaston Couple’s Golden Wedding
Mr. and Mrs. Henry Evry, of St Catherine’s, celebrated their golden wedding on Saturday with a happy family party.
Born at Batheaston, Mr. Henry Evry attended Batheaston Schools, and from there went to work and learned farming and market gardening, which occupation he has followed all his life. Mrs.Evry was Miss Adelaide Harding, and was born at Marshfield. Later she came to Bath and became cook in the household of the late Ald. C. B. Oliver, at the time he was the lessee of the Assembly Rooms. He she met Mr. Evry, and they were married on Jan. 8, 1895.
The couple have had eight children four of whom survive, Reg and John working in the same occupation as their father, and Tom being a mechanic on tractor work. A daughter is Mrs. Irene Rice, of Devonshire Buildings, Bath. The eldest son lost his life in an aeroplane accident in the North of England during the last war.

St Catherine's War Memorial, near Batheaston (Somerset)

St Catherine’s War Memorial, near Batheaston (Somerset)

Private Henry Archibald Evry is buried adjacent to Private Fudge in Ramleh War Cemetery (G.57 and G.58). His name also features on the war memorials at St Catherine’s and Batheaston.

References:

[1] Everard Wyrall, The history of the Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert’s), 1914-1919 (London: Methuen, 1927), pp. 272, 275.

[2] St James Church Taunton, World War 1 Memorial Project: http://www.tauntonstjameswarmemorial.org.uk/namesag/tdcollier.htm

[3] Bath Chronicle, 14 July 1934, p 21, via British Newspaper Archive.

[4] Bath Chronicle, 13 Jan 1945, p. 6, via British Newspaper Archive.


Responses

  1. […] Regiment, were both killed in action in the attempt to capture El Jib on the 23rd November 1917; Private William Henry Fudge (Taunton), 2/4th Somerset Light Infantry, was killed on the 18th December 1917 in the build up to […]

  2. […] Bath and Wells Diocesan Association to die while serving in the First World War, the others being William Fudge and Sidney Archibald Phillips (Taunton), Henry James Webber (Bishop’s Hull), and Henry […]

  3. […] Minor that was rung at Bishop’s Hull on the 25th January 1913. The peal, however, did feature William Fudge, a Taunton bellringer who would be be killed-in-action in Palestine on the 18th December 1917, […]

  4. […] cast in 1922 to the memory of four Taunton bellringers that died during the war; the others being: Private William Henry Fudge of the 2/4th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry, Private Sidney Archibald Phillips of the 1/8th […]

  5. […] Private William Henry Fudge of the 2/4th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry; […]


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