Thursday, 27 February 2014

Holy Trinity Cemetery, Hoiylake: Lieut. John O'Neill, VC MM

Although not a casualty of the First World War, John O'Neill did fight and was awarded his VC during that conflict.

According to the VC website - - the story behind O'Neill;'s VC is as follows:

On the 14th October 1918, the 2nd Battalion, Prince of Wales' Leinster Regiment, moved out of Ypres towards the heavily contested ground around the strongly held town of Courtrai. They advanced slowly to a point between the villages of Ledegem and Moorsele, some six miles from Courtrai, where the attack ground to a halt, checked by two enemy machine guns and an artillery battery firing over open sights.
Sergeant O'Neill, leading a small group of eleven men, decided to charge the German battery. The small party successfully overcame the enemy positions and some of the captured guns were turned towards the German lines. Elevating them as high as possible, they loosed them off in the vague direction of the enemy.
Six days later O'Neill was once again involved in an action which was part of his VC citation, when he charged a machine gun position single-handed, with only one man to cover him. Both of O'Neill's actions were witnessed by Captain John Moran MC, an officer in the 2nd Leinsters, who later in life became Father Moran.

Between the wars, O'Neill served in the RAF as an Armourer Sergeant when he served alongside Lawrence of Arabia.

In 1940 he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps defending Liverpool's docklands from air attack. He died of a heart attack age 45 on 16 October 1942.

Medal entitlement of Lieutenant John O'Neill - 2nd Bn, Prince of Wales' Leinster Regiment
  • Victoria Cross
  • Military Medal ( MM )
  • 1914 - 15 Star
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 )
  • King George VI Coronation Medal ( 1937 )
  • Knight, Order of Leopold II ( Belgium )
  • Medaille Militaire ( France )

In 1962, John O'Neill's medals were given for sale by auction to the specialist company BA Seaby. The company was subsequently robbed and over £30.000 worth of medals and coins were stolen.

John O'Neill's VC has never been seen since.

Holy Trinity Cemetery, Hoylake - 2 Canadians

According to the CWGC website, there are 23 identified war graves in this cemetery, although we weren't able to visit all of them.

We did spend a few quiet  moments at several gravesides and thought we'd like to give special mention to the two Canadians who were so far from home when they died.

Private Henry James Gutteridge of the 52nd Manitoba Batallion of the Canadian Infantry who died on 13th May 1917

Private James Arthur Jones of the Canadian Infantry, Alberta regiment who died on 29th June 1917.

James was originally born in Preston, Lancashire on 9th January 1881. He travelled to Canada as a Presbytarian Missionary and married Fanny Jane.

He enlisted at Medecine Hat in Alberta on 12th May 1916. He saw action in Europe but died of gunshot and shrapnel wounds in hospital back in England.


Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Flaybrick Hill Cemetery, Birkenhead - Chief Officer Kathleen Ackerley WRNS (WW2)

We hoped to visit the grave of World War 1 nurse Annie Louise Roberts of the Queen Alexandra Imperial Nursing Service who died on 29th September 1916 but, unfortunately, couldn't find it, even though we had the correct grave reference (3 NC 403) and more or less understood the layout of the cemetery.

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, there are over 200 war graves here so we knew we would never be able to visit all of them. Instead we stopped and paid our respects  at the few war graves that we passed while we were searching the particular area of the grave where Annie Roberts was supposed to be buried.

Instead,  today,  we thought we would feature a WW2 Wren who we found - Chief Officer Kathleen Ackerley, who died on 31st August 1940 aged 46.

According to the London Gazette, Kathleen had just been promoted to the rank of Chief Officer on 10th July, having been elevated to First Officer on 26th September 1939  tells us that she was killed in a road accident while serving at HMS Eaglet - a shore establishment in Liverpool that housed the Mersey Division of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

According to a news report in the Hull Daily Mail dated 2nd September 1940, the accident happened around 4 miles from Silloth near Carlisle.

Kathleen was travelling in  a car with Womens Voluntary Service driver Mary Anthony when another car containing 4 RAF airmen pulled out of a side road and caused a collision. 3 RAF men were also killed in the crash. The 4th survived, as did Mary Anthony.

Her obituary in The Times dated 5th September 1940 said:

By the death on duty in a motoring accident of Miss Kathleen Ackerley, Chief Officer of the Liverpool Area, the Women's Royal Naval Service has lost one of its most valued officers. The accident occurred in Cumberland last Saturday. Miss Ackerley was appointed to the staff of the Flag Officer-in-Charge, Liverpool, in September, 1939, and had organized the whole of the W.R.N.S. work in the Liverpool area with exceptional ability. She served with the Women's Legion at the end of the last War and afterwards had experience as a district secretary of the Church Organization Society and as a welfare superintendent at Jay's, London. A tall, handsome woman, of distinguished appearance and very attractive personality, Chief Officer Ackerley had gained the affection as well as the respect of all who worked with her, and she will be greatly missed.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Harold Airey - Royal Naval Air Service

Harold Ferguson Airey
Flight Sub Lieutenant
Royal Naval Air Service
Died: 23rd November 1917, Dover 
Age: 19
Grave located in: St Annes Parish Churchyard, St Annes on the Sea, Lancashire
Also commemorated on the Hale town memorial.
Extra information:
Attended King Edward's School, St. Annes on Sea and the Hale Congregational Church.

Employed in his father's firm who was the principal of Messrs. F.S. Airey, Entwistle & Co, Mill Valuers and Auctioneers, Norfolk St, Manchester.

He had been at the front, where he shot down one enemy aircraft.   He transferred to Dover to test new flying machines.     On the 23rd he was having a final trial flight when he nosed dived and failed to recover.

Buried at St. Anne's Parish Churchyard, St. Anne's on Sea, Lancashire on Monday 26th November 1917

Horace Smith - Manchester Regiment

Horace Smith
Manchester Regiment
Service Number: 201819
Died: 15th February 1920
Age: 22

Grave located in: St Annes Parish Churchyard, St Annes on the Sea, Lancashire

George Flook - Loyal North Lancashire Regiment

George Flook
Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Service Number: 18811
Died: 12th SEptember 1916
Age: 32

Grave located in: St Annes Parish Churchyard, St Annes on the Sea, Lancashire

Edwin Callander Stewart - 50th Bn Canadian Infantry, St Annes

Edwin Callander Stewart
50th Battalion Canadian Infantry
Service Number: 435800
Died: 24th December 1916
Age: 38

Enlisted 4th October 1915, Calgary
Grave located in: St Annes Parish Churchyard, St Annes on the Sea, Lancashire

St Annes Parish Church, St Annes on the Sea

There are 18 listings on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for this churchyard.  We didn't find all of them but, having learnt how to understand the grave reference / locating system "in the field" so to speak, still did pretty well.

The full list is as follows:

ADDISON, WILLIAM BURNS Boy    22/02/1919  Royal Air Force 
AIREY, HAROLD FERGUSON   Flight Sub-Lieutenant   23/11/1917 Royal Naval Air Service
AVISON, RONALD JAMES    Gunner 26/01/1942  Royal Artillery 
CAHILL, RICHARD Private   31/07/1917  East Lancashire Regiment  
CARTMELL, ARTHUR  Deck Hand   27/04/1917  Royal Naval Reserve 
ELTOFT, ROBERT AUGUSTUS FRANCIS  Gunner  05/04/1940  Royal Artillery 
FLOOK, G  Private   12/09/1916   The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment 
GILLETT, J A  Sapper  15/06/1918  Royal Engineers 
HARRISON, CLIFFORD  Flight Sergeant 10/04/1943  Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve  
KENDAL, T   Gunner  10/12/1920  Royal Field Artillery 
LEE, CHARLES HENRY   Major  26/02/1920     Manchester Regiment
MELLING, S P        Private  02/11/1918  Army Service Corps    
SMITH, HORACE   Private   15/02/1920  Manchester Regiment 
SMITH, S  Private  04/03/1917  Army Service Corps  
STEWART, E C      Private  24/12/1916  Canadian Infantry Canadian 
SYKES, ROBERT NORMAN  Signalman  29/03/1942  Royal Corps of Signals 
THOMAS, GEORGE DOUGLAS  Leading Aircraftman   22/01/1942 Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 
VENABLES, CLIFFORD  Driver  22/12/1942  Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Friday, 21 February 2014

Thomas Henry Tipping - Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, Lytham

Thomas Henry Tipping
2nd / 4th Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Service Number: 20255
Died: 21st February 1916
Age: 52

Grave located in: St John The Divine Churchyard, Lytham, Lancashire

There is also a listing for an E Tipping, Colour Sergeant in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.  Service number 20421 who died on 1st August 1916.  We did not see that grave.

Robinson Parkinson - Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, Lytham

Robinson Parkinson
1/4th Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (Territorial Force)
Service Number: 1085
Died: 2nd November 1914
Age: 18

Grave located in: St John The Divine Churchyard, Lytham, Lancashire
1/4th BattalionAugust 1914 : in Preston. Part of North Lancashire Brigade in West Lancashire Division. Moved on 22 August 1914 to Swindon and on in November to Sevenoaks.
It would appear that when the 4th Battalion Loyal North Lancs were at Swindon, they were innoculated prior to going overseas. Parkinson reacted badly to the innoculation and died within days.
The Army agreed to pay to bury him in Swindon, but would not pay for his body to be shipped home.
so the people of Lytham people had a collection and raised enough money to bring him home and have him buried in the local Churchyard
You can read the War History of the 1st/4th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment here:

Peter Whiteside - Royal Naval Reserve, Lytham

P Whiteside
Deck Hand
Royal Naval Reserve
Service Number: 6523/DA
Died: 2nd December 1917
Age: 47

Died of illness at HMS Vivid, RNR Barracks, Devonport
Grave located in: St John The Divine Churchyard, Lytham, Lancashire

Joseph Wakefield - Yorkshire Regiment, Lytham

Joseph Wakefield
2nd Yorkshire Regiment
Service Number: 33818
Died: 30th October 1918
Age: 28

Grave located in: St John The Divine Churchyard, Lytham, Lancashire
Notes: formerly Private 39649, Essex Regiment and T/260925, Royal Army Service Corps, died of wounds in England

Henry Gaskell - Royal Field Artillery, Lytham

Henry Gaskell
Royal Field Artillery
Service Number: L3850
Died: 26th March 1915
Age: 34

Grave located in: St John The Divine Churchyard, Lytham, Lancashire
Henry Gaskell is also remembered on the WW1 war memorial in Chorley

Frank Rodney Riley - Kings Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, Lytham

Frank Rodney Riley
Kings Own Royal Lancaster Regiment
Service Number: 13294
Died: 13th October 1918
Age: 22

Grave located in: St John The Divine Churchyard, Lytham, Lancashire

Arthur Slough - Royal Garrison Artillery, Lytham

Arthur Slough
Battery Sergeant Major
Royal Garrison Artillery
Service Number: 7042
Died: 21st May 1915
Age: 34

Grave located in: St John The Divine Churchyard, Lytham, Lancashire

Alfred Pritchard - Kings Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, Lytham

Alfred Pritchard
Kings Own Royal Lancaster Regiment
Service Number: 201797
Died: 2nd February 1921,
Age: 34

Grave located in: St John The Divine Churchyard, Lytham, Lancashire

Alice Knowles - Womens Royal Naval Service, Lytham St John The Divine Churchyard

Alice Knowles is the only lady in this cemetery who is listed as a war grave as she was in the Women's Royal Naval Service when she died.

Alice Knowles
Womens Royal Naval Service
Service Number: G6630
Died: 29th November 1918
Age: 24

Grave located in: St John The Divine Churchyard, Lytham, Lancashire

St John The Divine Churchyard - Lytham

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), there are 13 graves from the First World War period in this cemetery, including one from 1921.  We only found 10 of them when we were there, although it was the first time that we had tried to find any and we did not have the benefit of this list at the time.

They are listed here below, with their ranks, dates of death and regiments.

BAYLISS, D    Private  12/09/1915  King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment)
BRIDGES, C H   Corporal   26/02/1921  Royal Corps of Signals
GASKELL, H       Driver   26/03/1915    Royal Field Artillery
HEYWOOD, J        Private    31/01/1915  King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment)
KNOWLES, ALICE Telephonist  29/11/1918   Women's Royal Naval Service
PARKINSON, ROBINSON     Private  02/11/1914   The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
PRITCHARD, ALFRED          Private  02/02/1921   King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment)
RILEY, FRANK RODNEY       Private 13/10/1918   King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment)
SLOUGH, ARTHUR  Battery Serjeant Major  21/05/1915  Royal Garrison Artillery
TIPPING, E  Colour Serjeant     01/08/1916   The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
TIPPING, THOMAS HENRY  Private    21/02/1916  The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
WAKEFIELD, JOSEPH  Private  30/10/1918  Yorkshire Regiment
WHITESIDE, P       Deck Hand  02/12/1917   Royal Naval Reserve

You can find out more about individual war casualties, war graves and cemeteries at the CWGC website :