Tag Archives: WW100

Remembering Edgar Francis Medley 27 May 1918 WW1

Lance Corporal Edgar Francis Medley,
883217, 31st Battalion Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment)  died aged 39 on 27 May 1918 of war wounds.

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One name that crops up on a CWGC search under the name ‘Devoran’ is Edgar Francis Medley but his connection appears at the moment quite slim but interesting –  involving family connections of forgotten Canadian war graves, emigration, Red Cross Orderly Reverends and Conscientious Objection by the “conchie” brother of a British prime minister.

Born May 4th 1879 in Toxteth,  Liverpool, he is the only CWGC burial in Innisfail Bowden Chalak Farm Cemetery, Alberta, Canada. Intriguingly the CWGC website records that ‘recent research shows he is buried here.

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Image source CWGC

He graduated from Oxford Wadham College and his Oxford memorial records that he died in Canada of wounds received in France and Belgium in 1917.

He married in 1905 in Banff, Canada where he seems to have spent most of his life working as a farmer in the Red Deer District, Innisfail, Alberta, Canada  having emigrated in 1903 or 1905.

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He is listed as the husband of Louise Maude Medley, living in Innisfail, Alberta, who was also British born. They had two daughters Catherine (Kitty) and Eileen.

He enlisted in the 31st Battalion (Alberta) Canadian Expeditionary Force Through the course of the First World War, the 31st Battalion suffered losses of 941 dead, and an additional 2,312 non-fatal casualties.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/31st_Battalion_(Alberta),_CEF

He was remembered at Remembrance commemorations in 2014 in Innisfail, Canada by his community and descendants.

https://www.innisfailprovince.ca/article/time-never-fades-loving-remembrance-20141118

https://www.innisfailprovince.ca/article/a-time-when-theres-no-greater-love-20141104

https://www.innisfailprovince.ca/article/st-marks-church-holds-fascinating-key-to-past-20141104

https://www.innisfailprovince.ca/article/innisfail-faces-year-of-anger-celebration-and-victory-20141230

This Newspaper article suggest that he has a refurbished or CWGC headstone, and that his once forgotten grave is now on private land.

https://www.innisfailprovince.ca/article/acts-of-remembrance-commemoration-and-honour-20171107

“In 2014, a Veterans headstone marker was placed on land just east of Innisfail in memory of Lance Cpl. Edgar Medley who died in 1918 as a result from his war wounds. After nearly 100 years, a permanent memorial was dedicated to his memory. Funded by the Commonwealth War Grave Commission, this was achieved through many hours of devoted work by locals David Hoar, Don Chalack and Johnnie Bachusky.” .

Even more clues to this forgotten British born hero of Alberta is given here:

https://www.innisfailprovince.ca/article/in-times-of-scandal-look-to-real-heroes-20131105

Last weekend, hours before the season’s first big snowstorm hit, I took a small road trip southeast of Innisfail to look at a once abandoned gravesite, one that had been largely forgotten for nine decades.

This tranquil spot, in a small forest overlooking a creek valley, is the final resting place of Lance-Cpl. Edgar Medley. Once a prominent citizen who was a vice-president of the Innisfail Agriculture Society, Medley joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force’s 31st Battalion in the First World War. He was a decorated soldier and badly wounded in combat while serving with the army in France. Medley came home but died from his wounds on May 27, 1918. He left behind his wife Maude and daughters Catherine and Eileen.

His gravesite, the only one at the isolated location, is commemorated with a huge ornate headstone. Maude died in 1970 and her ashes were spread at the site. The property, meanwhile, changed hands many times. It is possible some of the owners over the years never knew about the gravesite. Certainly, the Canadian government did not know, nor did the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, an organization created by Royal Charter after the First World War to ensure worthy veterans were and still are properly commemorated.

But three years ago both organizations received a tip about Lance-Cpl. Medley and his gravesite. He has since been properly commemorated as a war casualty in the Canadian Book of Remembrance and the Canadian Virtual War Museum. He is the last Alberta soldier from the First World War to receive this honour. He is certainly a true hero.”

What is Edgar Francis Medley’s Connection to Devoran?

The slim  but very interesting Devoran connection on the CWGC website appears to be his mother Mrs Gifford Johnson of Devoran.

Although he was born in Britain, her son Edgar’s name is not recorded on the Devoran memorial as he has his own burial headstone in Canada. He is also remembered on the Oxford University Roll of Honour.

Edgar’s mother was born Katherine Frances Sinclair Scott in Malta, daughter of Robert C. Scott, an RN Naval Surgeon.

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The possible Devoran connection may lie here.

Edgar Francis Medley had a sister Katherine Mary Ida Medley, who later married architect and WW1 Conscientious objector  T.S. (Thomas Simons) Attlee, the brother of British Prime Minister Clement Attlee.

Tom Attlee (1880-1960) moved to the relative obscurity of Perranwell, Cornwall in 1919 on discharge from jail as a “conchie” or C.O, living at Tullimaar and Leory Croft Perranwell near Devoran. Katherine’s decision (after her husbands Gifford’s death in 1921) to move to Devoran appears to be linked to her daughter and son-in-law living there.

More about Tom and Kathleen Attlee (Edgar’s sister) and a WEA connection to Winston Graham and that most Cornish of things, Poldark here:

http://winstongraham.yolasite.com/resources/WEA.pdf

This site mentions the shame that Kathleen Attlee suffered with a conchie Husband and decorated military uncles like Alexander

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One of Edgar and Kathleen Medley’s decorated military uncles, WW1  Brigadier General Royal Garrison  Artillery Alexander Francis Sinclair Scott.

 

https://www.ancestry.co.uk/family-tree/person/tree/9116947/person/6868536875/facts

As a widow of F.W. Medley (Edgar’s father) Mrs Gifford Johnson had remarried in 1898,  the Reverend Gifford Henry Johnson (1859-1921). They had a son around 1900, Raymond Sinclair Johnson who enlisted in the Indian /  British Army and became a Brigadier General and MBE, dying in 1988.

The Gifford Johnsons lived variously in Richmond, Worthing (1901)  and Waltham Essex  (1911 Census), still as lodgers no doubt as a Reverend of clerk in holy orders.

Edgar’s stepfather, Reverend Gifford Henry Johnson served  as a Red Cross Orderly in France 19/4/15 to 16/1/16, Salonica from 17/1/16 to 15/12/16 and France agin from 5/2/17 to 3/4/18.  He appears to have received an MBE at some point. He died in Croydon in 1921.

Edgar Frances Medley  and family – Remembered 100 years on, Canada and Devoran.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project, Cornwall

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Gwendoline Edwards heads happily home from France WW1

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On Devoran Lane, not far from St Johns Church & Vicarage, pictured here c. 1905/6  is the Driffold Hotel listed on BBC Domesday reloaded

9th July 1917 – a young woman from Devoran finishes her service as an ambulance driver in France during the First World War and heads home to her village with a happy heart.

She must have seen some terrible sights during her nine months service overseas, seeing some of the human wreckage of the trenches. The Doctor’s daughter must have been relieved to see her home safely again.

On Devoran Lane, not far from St. John and St Petroc’s Church and Vicarage, is the Driffold, once a hotel, now known as Edwards Road.  The Driffold in Late Victorian times and into the Edwardian / First World War period was home to Doctor Philip Hugh Edwards family. It is still known as Edwards House, opposite the modern 1980s houses of Edwards Road.

An enquiry lodged with the BRCS archives for any further information on Gwendoline Mary Edwards elicited that VAD Cornwall 34 (34 might be her number or an area number) Gwendoline Edwards served as a 21 year old from 13 October 1916 as Rank G.S. (General Service?) Chauffeuse until 9 July 1917 (a week before her wedding). Particulars of duties: Motor Ambulance Driving in France.

VAD Cornwall 34 might be her number or an area number.

Gwendoline Layton Blunt (nee Edwards) British Red Cross Society record cards (Courtesy: BRCS archive )

Gwendoline Layton Blunt (nee Edwards) British Red Cross Society record cards (Courtesy: BRCS archive )

The reason for her happy return before the end of the war?

A week later 100 years ago on the 16th July 1917 Gwendoline was married and became Mrs Gwendoline Layton Blunt.

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Although we have failed to find a photo of the wedding or of Gwendoline so far, we have found  a duplicate of the certificate.

We will publish more about the wedding including press cuttings found by my fellow researcher Bob Richards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering Percy Sweet killed Battle Of Arras 9 April 1917 WW1

Rifleman Percy Archibald Sweet, Died 9 April 1917

In 2014 Rifleman Percy Sweet’s name was included on the additional panel to the Devoran Parish War Memorial, despite not appearing on the original Roll of Honour.

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The new panel on the Devoran War Memorial, listing two new WW1 Devoran casualty names P.A. Sweet and W.J. Hoyle, thanks to work / research by Bob Richards and the Feock Parish Council.

Devoran resident Rifleman Percy Archibald Sweet 474189 of the 12th London Regiment (The Rangers) was killed aged 31 on 9 April 1917 during the battle (7-9 April) to take the French village of Neuville Vitasse by the 56th (London) Division.

He is buried at plot 1 A 35 with many other London Rangers in the London Cemetery, Neuville Vitasse.

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/285585/SWEET,%20P%20A

The Battle of Arras is being commemorated by centenary events hosted by the Commonwealth War Graves commission. http://blog.cwgc.org/arras/

One famous casualty of the Battle of Arras, fought at Easter,  was the talented Country writer and poet Edward Thomas. He was killed by shellfire at Easter during the first day of the Battle of Arras two years later.

In Memoriam (Easter, 1915)
By Edward Thomas
The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood
This Eastertide call into mind the men,
Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should
Have gathered them and will do never again.

A fitting tribute to one such of the men who was a resident of Devoran and London, Percy Sweet.

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Percy Sweet’s headstone, London Cemetery (Image copyright TWGPP/CWGC, The War Graves Photographic Project)

Percy Sweet’s father Francis and Louisa Sweet lived at Fernmere on Market Street in Devoran. Percy is also listed on the CWGC website as a ‘native of Hammersmith’ London where Percy and his brothers and sisters were born.
His father (a shoemaker) and mother are still listed in the 1911 census working in London but by the time Rifleman Percy Sweet was killed in France in 1917, the family were living in Devoran.

His father Francis Sweet was born in Kenwyn, Truro and his mother Louisa (nee Pridham) from Southdown in Cornwall.
Percy Sweet was born in Hammersmith, 1887 and was listed in the 1911 census as a Cordwainer (a leather worker / shoemaker) in London. This explains why he enlisted in a London regiment.

Percy Sweet’s Service Records survive and give a few personal details of his enlistment (attestation) including being issued with spectacles whilst out in France on army service.

His family chose the suitable Easter resurrection wording for the personal inscription on his headstone “He Is Not Here, He Is Risen

https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/other-devoran-related-wartime-casualties-and-a-wartime-marriage/

 

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Rifleman’s headstones at the London Cemetery, Neuville Vitasse, Arras, France. (Image source CWGC)

The London Cemetery, Neuville Vitasse Cemetery CWGC

Neuville-Vitasse was attacked by the 56th (London) Division on 7 April 1917 and captured by the same Division on 9 April. The village was almost entirely lost at the end of March 1918 but regained at the end of the following August. It was later “adopted” by the Metropolitan Borough of Paddington.

The London Cemetery was made by the 56th London Division in April 1917 and greatly extended after the Armistice when graves were brought in from other burial grounds and from the battlefields between Arras, Vis-en-Artois and Croisilles.

Neuville-Vitasse is a village in the department of the Pas-de-Calais, 5 kilometres south-east of Arras on the D5. London Cemetery stands on the west side of the road to Arras in a shallow valley.
London Cemetery contains 747 burials and commemorations of the First World War, amongst them Rifleman Percy Sweet, one time resident of Devoran. 318 of the burials are unidentified. The cemetery was designed by famous architect Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Remembering Percy Sweet of Devoran and London, his Comrades of the London Regiment and all those of all nations who fell at the Battle of Arras 1917, remembered in Devoran, 100 years later.