Military Monday: 2nd Lieutenant Roy Edwards of the Rifle Brigade, 10th Battalion

After writing a post the other week about Sydney Henry Payne’s service in World War I, I found myself wondering what happened to Syd’s commander, 2nd Lt. Roy Edwards [no relation to Syd’s brother in law, William James Stephen Edwards, the husband of Syd’s sister Ida Edith (Payne) Edwards, who also served in WWI].

You may recall that he sent Syd’s mother, Edith Jane (Scarrott) Payne Burns Hart the following letter, assuring her of Syd’s safety:

“Oct. 26 1917.  Dear Mrs. Payne, No doubt your son has told you he is servant to me in France and as I have just arrived home on leave I thought you might like to hear from me that he is quite well and as we are in a quiet part of the line he is quite safe for many a day to come. As an officer’s servant he has quite a good time as I think he will admit & I feel sure it will be a consolation for you to know that servant’s seldom if ever do any of the dangerous jobs. Yours truly, Roy Edwards, 2nd Lt. R.B. PS Your son asked me to tell you that I am getting his watch mended & will take it back with me.”

First page of letter written from Roy Edwards to Edith Hart, 1917

First page of letter written by Roy Edwards to Edith Hart, 1917

Second page of letter written by Roy Edwards to Edith Hart

Second page of letter written by Roy Edwards to Edith Hart, 1917

The tragedy of that letter, of course, was that one month later the 10th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade would be called to participate in the Battle of Cambrai. Sydney Payne was injured in the Battle of Cambrai on 20 November 1917 and died of his wounds on 21 November 1917.

It seems that Lt. Edwards returned to the front in time to give Syd back his newly-repaired watch.

2nd Lt. Roy Edwards is listed as a casualty who died 30 November 1917 on the Cambrai Memorial in Louveral, France, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and The War Graves Photographic Commission, but unlike Sydney Payne, he does not have an individual gravestone. Investigating further, it seems that the reason for this was because his body was never found or identified. According to British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920, 2nd Lt. Roy Edwards of the 10th Battalion Rifle Brigade [service number NW/5/15883] was “wounded and missing” on 30 November 1917, with a note stating that Roy’s brother, L.H. Edwards, applied for a medal in his late brother’s honor on 29 October 1921, and that Roy’s next of kin was his mother, Mrs. Edwards of 30 Nevern Place, S.W. 5.

Probate of Roy Edwards of 21 Bush-lane Cannon-street, London, a lieutenant of the Rifle Brigade who “died on or since 30 November 1917 in France” was granted to his widow Louise Isabelle Edwards on 20 November 1919. His effects were valued at £1051 7s. 6d., according to the National Probate Calendar.

So Lt. Edwards survived his servant Sydney Payne a mere 10 days along the previously “quiet” and “safe” front in France, yet unlike Syd’s family who were immediately notified of his death, Lt. Edwards’ family waited two years before declaring Roy dead, since his body was not identified on the battlefield, presumably holding onto the slim hope that he would miraculously appear, perhaps having been taken prisoner rather than dead. But like so many of England’s families at the time, their son/husband/brother never came home.

Tombstone Tuesday: WWI Rifleman Sidney Henry Payne

Sidney Henry PAYNE was born on 21 July 1898 in 125 Blackfriars Rd., Southwark, London, England, the son of Thomas Samuel Henry Payne and Edith Jane Scarrott. His name was also spelled as “Sydney”. He was the brother of Ida Edith (Payne) Edwards and the half-brother of Lucy Lilian Burns. He was baptized on 16 December 1900 in St. Mary’s, Lambeth, London, England.

Sidney/Sydney Henry Payne, 1917, World War I

Sidney/Sydney Henry Payne, 1917, World War I

At the age of 18, he enlisted for World War I at Southwark on 7 September 1916, and was assigned service number S/25413. From then until August 1917, he was stationed at Minster West, North Sheerness, where he engaged in rifle training and machine gun training. As Sidney’s letters to his sister Ida show, he became frustrated having to wait in England. He volunteered three times for service to France, but was turned down. Upon receiving advice from his uncle Henry Percy Scarrott, he volunteered again and was accepted for service in France. He wrote to his sister about the news, but asked that she not inform their mother, since he did not want her to worry unnecessarily. By September 1917, he was stationed in France.

He wrote to his mother Edith on 25 September 1917, “My Dear Mother, Just a line in reply to your most welcome letter and also to thank you very much for parcel and give my thanks to Lucy. I could not write before as I have just come out the line and I am getting on fine and am in good health and I hope you are not worrying over me, I hope the war to be over very shortly”.

On 26 October 1917, Sidney’s senior officer wrote a letter to Edith (Scarrott) Payne Burns, describing Sidney’s service in the war thus far: “ Dear Mrs. Payne, No doubt your son has told you he is servant to me in France and as I have just arrived home on leave I thought you might like to hear from me that he is quite well and as we are in a quiet part of the line he is quite safe for many a day to come. As an officer’s servant he has quite a good time as I think he will admit & I feel sure it will be a consolation for you to know that servant’s seldom if ever do any of the dangerous jobs. Yours truly, Roy Edwards, 2nd Lt. R.B. PS Your son asked me to tell you that I am getting his watch mended & will take it back with me.”

On 12 November, Sidney Payne wrote his last letter to his mother, written only 8 days before he was injured in the Battle of Cambrai on 20 November 1917 and died of his wounds on 21 November 1917. “My Dearest Mother, Just a few lines in reply to your most welcome letter, and am so glad to know that you still are quite safe and you must cheere[?] and look forward to the best and you must not worry over me because I am quite allright, and I should like you to thank Lucy very much for photograph and I also answered Mrs. Butler’s letter, also I am jolly glad you have had some one to console you feelings during these awful air raids and you must thank Mr, [Maxter?] for me & also for cigarettes. Well how is Lucy getting on I hope she has been a good girl while I have been out, here also next line you write you might send me a few safety razer blades ask for Gilletts. Well how are you getting on; well I hope and not worrying about Fritz’s aeroplanes, I expect by now you are quite use to them any way I wish it was all over, you had better not keep my dinner hot because I don’t suppose I shall be home this Christmas very likely. You say in your letter Ma that my officer is a [sport?] well as a matter of fact he is one of the best officers we have got and all the boys like him. As Christmas is drawing near I think I would like you to get me a present. I should very well like a ring, if you think you can get me one, let me know and I will send you the one I have on my finger so you can get the size. Well this is about all I have to say and I hope you are all in the pink and that you will write again soon. Closing with heaps of love and kisses. I am Your Loving Son, Sid. XXXXXXXXXXXXXX PS Am enclosing a Gillett safety blade these are the sort I want.”

Although Sid didn’t know it at the time, his mother had very good reason to worry.

While in France, Sidney served as a rifleman in the military in the 10th Battalion, Rifle Brigade which served in the 59th Brigade of the 20th (Light) Division, which was a New Army division formed as part of the K2 Army group. They were stationed in a quiet section of France along the German Hindenberg line. However, his division was called in to participate in the surprise attack known as the Battle of Cambrai, which began at 8 PM on November 20, 1917.

From Wikipedia: The Battle of Cambrai (20 November – 7 December 1917) was a British campaign of the First World War. Cambrai was a key supply point for the German Siegfried Stellung (part of the Hindenburg Line) and the nearby Bourlon Ridge would be an excellent gain from which to threaten the rear of the German line to the north. The British plans originated from Henry Hugh Tudor, commander of the 9th Infantry Division artillery. In August 1917, as Brigadier-General, he conceived the idea of a surprise attack in IV Corps sector that his unit occupied. Tudor suggested a primarily artillery-infantry attack, which would be supported by a small number of tanks to secure a breakthrough of the German Hindenburg Line. The German defences were formidable. Cambrai having been a quiet stretch of front thus far enabled the Germans to fortify their lines in depth and the British were aware of this. Tudor’s plan sought to test new methods in combined arms, with emphasis on artillery and infantry techniques and see how effective they were against strong German fortifications. The battle began at 8 p.m. on 20 November, with a carefully prepared and predicted but unregistered barrage by 1,003 guns on German defences, followed by smoke and a creeping barrage at 300 yards ahead to cover the first advances. Despite efforts to preserve secrecy, the German forces had received sufficient intelligence to be on moderate alert: an attack on Havrincourt was anticipated, as was the use of tanks. Initially there was considerable success in most areas and it seemed as if a great victory was within reach; the Hindenburg Line had been penetrated with advances of up to 5 miles (8.0 km). The 20th (Light) Division, which Sidney Payne was a part of, forced a way through La Vacquerie and then advanced to capture a bridge across the St Quentin canal at Masnières. The bridge collapsed under the weight of the crossing tanks, halting the hopes for advance there. Of the tanks, 180 were out of action after the first day, although only 65 had been destroyed. Of the other casualties, 71 had suffered mechanical failure and 43 had ditched. The British had suffered around 4,000 casualties and had taken 4,200 prisoners, a casualty rate half that of Third Ypres (Passchendaele) and a greater advance in six hours than in three months there.

Sidney Payne was injured the first night of the attack on 20 November 1917, and he died on 21 November 1917 at the age of 19. He had been brought to a clearing station located just to the west of the line, where he died of his injuries. He was buried in Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Cemetery, Manacourt, France.

Two days after his death, the matron of the clearing station where Sidney died wrote the following letter to his mother:

“48 Car Clear Stn. 23 Nov 1917.

Dear Mrs. Payne [51 Rockingham St., New Kent Rd., London ],

It is with much regret I have to tell you of the death of your son 25413 Pte. S. Payne on Tues. from wounds sustained in battle. He was brought in to us that day, but we found him beyond our aid to resussitate, & all we could do was to ease his pain & make him comfortable. He passed very peacefully away to his rest. He is buried in the military cemetery nearby here. With very sincere sympathy, Yours faithfully, Matron”

Sid’s mother’s pain must have been amplified by having likely just received the letter from Sid on November 12th (which was packaged with his officer’s letter from October 26th) with assurances of his safety and how quiet the line was.

Battle of Cambrai, France, 20 November 1917, The 20th British Division in which Sidney Payne was stationed with the 10th Battalion Rifle Brigade, moved from Gouzeaucourt to Masnières, France, where he suffered injuries and died the following day

Battle of Cambrai, France, 20 November 1917, The 20th British Division in which Sidney Payne was stationed with the 10th Battalion Rifle Brigade, moved from Gouzeaucourt to Masnières, France, where he suffered injuries and died the following day

Not only did Sid’s mother and sisters mourn his loss, but he had also recently become engaged. Sydney Henry Payne and Emily Louise Fournier were engaged in 1917, probably during or just prior to his service in World War I, although it is likely they met before the war began. She was born in 1901 at Southwark, London, England, the daughter of Emile A. Fournier and Emily Brett.   While it is uncertain how long their engagement lasted, it may have taken place while Sidney was away during the war, since Emily Fournier’s mother had never met Sidney. Emily later married Robert Thomas Bastin, in 1926 at Lambeth, England.

95 years ago today, Mrs. Emily (Brett) Fournier wrote the following letter of condolence to Edith (Scarrott) Payne Burns regarding the death of Sidney, as reported by Emily:

17 St. Albans St. Kennington Dec 4th 1917

Dear Mrs. Payne,
Since Emily told me the sad news I have not had courage to write as I feel so sorry for you being your only son perhaps I should not have noticed it so much only Emily told me you had a letter saying he was an officer’s servant and would be allright for a time it seemed no time after all is finished in this world for him for Emily it is a wound that will heal but for your it will be for the rest of your life. I have never seen your son but as the child received his letters, she used to pass them to me. I will tell you his mother what I thought of him. I thought him a most noble character with all of the fine qualities to make a good man it seems to me so hard for you with no husband. I hope I am not hurting your feelings but I have wanted to write two or three times but could not do it. Mrs. Payne I have much to be thankful for as I have my husband and all of my children still and this is much to be thankful for. The eldest is 21 years next May he goes up again tomorrow, the next is in the army but still in England, and I have Emily and five younger. The youngest two next February and when I look around and know such lovely boys have gone I feelt frightened of what I should feel if I was in your place today accept my best wishes for your health and strength to help you over this great trouble.
Yours Respectfully.
Mrs. Fournier.
[Note, handwritten in blue pen by Ida Edwards: From Sid’s Fiancee’s Mother]

Sidney Henry Payne wrote numerous postcards and letters to his mother, Edith Jane (Scarrott) Payne Burns Hart and to his older sister, Ida Edith (Payne) Edwards during World War I, which were saved by sister, Ida Edith (Payne) Edwards. Sid often mentions that he has spoken to or wishes to speak with the two men in his immediate family who were also serving in World War I: his uncle, Henry Percy Scarrott, and his brother-in-law, “Will”, William J.S. Edwards, the husband of Ida (Payne) Edwards. He also often requested that his sister Ida send his love to his little sister Lucy Burns.

Sid’s letters show that he was a funny, stubborn, cocksure, brave young man. In his death at the all-too-young age of 19, he joined the almost one million casualties that the United Kingdom suffered during the Great War. Although but a small percentage of that overwhelming statistic, his death was greatly felt in his immediate family for generations to come.

So 95 years after his untimely death, here’s a moment to honor Sidney Henry Payne, beloved son, brother, uncle.

The gravestone of Sydney Henry Payne, Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Cemetery Manancourt, France, courtesy of the War Graves Photographic Project

The gravestone of Sydney Henry Payne, Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Cemetery Manancourt, France, courtesy of the War Graves Photographic Project


ROCQUIGNY-EQUANCOURT ROAD BRITISH CEMETERY, MANANCOURT, FRANCE, where Sidney Henry Payne is buried. Image courtesy of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission,

Sid’s gravestone is listed by the War Graves Photographic Project, and he also has an entry at FindAGrave.

Mystery Monday: Part One: The Unidentified Friends and Family of Maria Jane (Peeples) Publicover of Gloucester and Beverly, Essex, Mass.

This week Of Graveyards and Things was included in the blogroll from Geneabloggers. Welcome aboard, new readers! Earlier in the week I wrote about the lovely autograph book of Maria Jane Peeples of Gloucester, Mass. from the 1890s. With a few extra pairs of eyes on the blog, let’s see if anyone can help solve a related mystery pertaining to Maria. Based upon her autograph book and stories passed down in the family, it is obvious that Maria had a wealth of friends and family from the North Shore of Massachusetts, friends who worked or lived in and around Boston, family from Nova Scotia and Hartford, Conn., and beyond. She was quite the social gal, and in addition to her autograph book, she also collected an incredible collection of photographs of her friends and loved ones. Unfortunately, she did not label any of these photographs.

Last year, I had an excellent conversation with Tim Salls, the archivist at NEHGS, about the inherent problems with unidentified photographs. As the curator for the Hanson Historical Society, I had recently organized their photograph collection, which had a selection of unlabeled images. He recommended uploading the collection to Flickr and harnessed the power of crowdsourcing to help identify unlabeled people, places, and events. And what a recommendation!! Over the past year, HHS’s photograph collection at Flickr has generated interest and input from numerous residents, former residents, and descendants of Hansonites who have recognized photographs and generously helped to identify images. It has been a wonderful way to connect with the community.

Around the same time, I was motivated to purchase archival supplies and organize the incredible collection of documents, photographs, and artifacts of family history in my possession. In discussing the project with other family members, a few very generously gave me some items to add to the collection for preservation, including this unidentified photograph collection of Maria Jane (Peeples) Publicover from my aunt Maria. Once placed in archival folders, within archival boxes, labeled and organized, I felt these images would be better served digitized and put out there on the web – where perhaps  descendants of Maria’s many friends, local historians, or historic photo buffs might be able to recognize the individuals in these images – and maybe give a face to the signatures from her autograph book!

The majority of images have a photographer’s name and address, so I have organized the images here by town, with the completely unidentified images at the end. Included are transcriptions of the photographer’s labels. [For additional details and the scanned backs of several of the portraits, see the collection on Flickr]. Today’s post will feature her friends and family beyond Gloucester – next week’s will feature all of her Gloucester, Mass. photographs.

Unidentified Portraits by Known Photographers

USA – Massachusetts – Beverly, Mass.

Unidentified Girl, Beverly, Mass. Photographer’s Label: Novelty Photo Co., Beverly, Mass.

USA – Massachusetts – Boston, Mass.

Unidentified Man, Boston, Mass. Photographer’s Label: Wm H. Allen, 58 Temple Place, Boston

Unidentified Woman, Boston, Mass. Photographer’s Label (on back): Diamond Photo Co., 24 Tremont Row, Boston

Unidentified Woman, Boston, Mass. Photographer’s Label: Dunshee. Hill. 22 Winter St., Boston

Unidentified Woman, Boston, Mass. Photographer’s Label: Gray, 1030 Tremont St., Boston

Unidentified Man, Boston, Mass. Photographer’s Label: B. Frank Hatstat, 521 Washington Street, Boston

Unidentified Woman, Boston, Mass., c. 1893. Photographer’s Label: Notman Photo Co., 480 Boylston St. and 3 Park St., Copyrighted 1893

Unidentified Woman, Boston, Mass. Photographer’s Label: Ritz Art Studio, 49 Temple Place, Boston, Mass.

USA – Massachusetts – Newburyport, Mass.

Unidentified Woman, Newburyport, Mass. Photographer’s Label: Frazier, Newburyport, Mass.

USA – Massachusetts – Salem, Mass.

Unidentified Man, Salem, Mass. Photographer’s Label: Haswell, Salem, Mass.

Unidentified Man (Willard B. Publicover?), Salem, Mass. Photographer’s Label: Haswell, Salem, Mass.
Handwritten label (on back): W.B.P.
[W.B.P. likely stands for Willard B. Publicover, indicating that this photograph is of or belonging to Willard B. Publicover, the husband of Maria Jane Peeples]

Unidentified Woman, Salem, Mass., c. 1884. Photographer’s Label (back): T& P, Taylor & Preston, 188 Essex St., Salem, Mass., 1884.

USA – Massachusetts – West Somerville, Mass. or Old Orchard, Me.

Unidentified Child, West Somerville, Mass. or Old Orchard, Me. Photographer’s Label: Whittemore’s Studio, West Somerville, Mass. & Old Orchard, Me.

USA – Connecticut – Hartford, Conn.

Unidentified Woman, Hartford, Conn. Photographer’s Label: Lloyd, 368 Main Street, Hartford, Conn. [Possible Peeples relative?]

Unidentified Child, Hartford, Conn. [Possible Peeples relative?]

Unidentified Man, Hartford, Conn., c. 1889. Photographer’s Label: Olsen Portraits, Hartford [Possible Peeples relative?]

USA – Illinois – Chicago, Ill.

Unidentified Woman, Chicago, Ill. Photographer’s Label: J. E. Waters, 414 E. 63rd St., Chicago

USA – New Hampshire – Milford, N.H.

Unidentified Child, Milford, N.H. Photographer’s Label: Perkins, South Street, Milford, N.H.

USA – New York – Lima, N.Y.

Unidentified Men, Lima, N.Y. Photographer’s Label: G. E. Bronson, Lima, N.Y.
Handwritten label (on back): Sue
[Were these men perhaps sons of a friend named Sue? They are wearing numerous prize ribbons.]

USA – New York – Manhattan, N.Y.

Unidentified Woman, New York, N.Y. Photographer’s Label: Hall, Broadway and 34th St., New York

CANADA – New Glasgow, Nova Scotia

Unidentified Woman, New Glasgow, Nova Scotia Photographer’s Label: Thomas Cook, New Glasgow, N.S. [Possible a Peeples relative?]

ENGLAND – Barrow-In-Furness, Lancashire, England

Photographer’s label:
H. J. Taphouse, Barrow-In-Furness

Unidentified Portraits by Unknown Photographers

Unidentified Child

Unidentified Child

Unidentified Man

This is one of my favorites:

Unidentified Man and Dog


Unidentified Man

Unidentified Man

Unidentified Women

All Saints Church and Churchyard, Ripley, North Yorkshire, England

While visiting my brother-in-law in Yorkshire, we made a day trip to the town of Ripley in North Yorkshire. We wandered around the castle for a bit, grabbed a delicious ice cream cone, and afterwards made our way to the All Saints Church and its surrounding graveyard.

All Saints Church, Ripley, North Yorkshire, England

The church dates to the 14th century, and features a very old “weeping cross” where pilgrims and penitents kneeled in prayer. The cross has been lost to time, replaced by stones at the base of the cross. There are only two weeping crosses known in Britain, it is believed that this cross was built around the the construction of the church in the 14th century (part of the original church structure is now sinking into the ground and is referred to as the “Sinking Chapel”):

Weeping Cross, All Saints Church

The church itself was rich in history. Along one of its walls, Cromwell’s Parliamentarian soldiers executed Royalist prisoners after the battle of Marston Moor during the First English Civil War (1644).

Church Wall with bullet holes at All Saints Church

Here is a closeup of the bullet holes which remain in the wall:

Closeup of Bullet Holes in a Church Wall Left By Cromwell’s Soldiers, All Saints Church

Inside, the baptismal font has served the parishioners for hundreds of years:

Baptismal font and stained glass window, All Saints Church

Ripley was mentioned in the Doomsday Book (written in the year 1086) and was originally located on the north bank of the River Nidd. However, in the early 14th century the Ingilby family relocated the village to the north. At that point the Ingilby family constructed Ripley Castle, and have resided there for over 700 years, through 28 generations of Ingilby’s.

The tomb of Sir Thomas Ingilby and his family is inside the church:

Tomb of Thomas Ingilby of Ripley and his wife. Ingilby saved King Edward III when he fell from his horse in the forest and was nearly gored by a wild boar. Ingilby swiftly killed the boar, which was eaten at the ensuing banquet, and earned a knighthood and family crest for the Ingilbys of Ripley.

The churchyard itself was overgrown at the back, with grass growing tall amongst the gravestones.

Churchyard, All Saints Church, Ripley, North Yorkshire, England

Churchyard, All Saints Church

Churchyard, All Saints Church

It was in this cemetery that I first noticed an unfortunate trend in numerous gravestones across Yorkshire: the use of a particular type of sandstone that must be incredibly susceptible to erosion. See James Harrison’s gravestone as an example:

Eroded Gravestone of James Harrison (d. 1875) and other Family Members

There were some beautiful monuments, such as Elizabeth Brown (d. 1857):

Elizabeth Brown (d. 1857) Gravestone, Wife of Francis Brown

But many stones were neglected and fallen over, like George Wood Ripley and his family:

Gravestone of George Wood of Ripley, wife Elizabeth and Daughters

Pieces of broken monuments were placed along the churchwalls:

Broken gravestones along All Saints Church wall

And some pieces of gravestones lay scattered in the overgrown gradd:

Broken Gravestone of Ann, the wife of Stephen Broad[elim?]

There were some lovely examples of gravestone art, such as this decorative angel blowing a trumpet on the family gravestone of George Bradfield:

Family Gravestone of George Bradfield (1851)

Or this possible crossing olive branches with a flower bud on the gravestone of Richard Pawson (d. 1857) and wife Jane (d. 1880):

Gravestone of Richard Pawson (1857) and Jane Pawson (1880)

A forlorn-looking man sits on a chair above the gravestone of 25 year old William Holmes (d. 1851)

Gravestone of William Holmes (d. 1851)

The churchyard itself was peaceful and quiet, though very close to the popular tourist attraction of Ripley Castle and its gardens. And although it seemed a big neglected and could do with a cleanup, it at least has avoided the horrible fate of several other churchyards and cemeteries in Yorkshire who have completely removed gravestones from the grounds and either placed the stones flat to create “Stepping stones”, removed to the churchwall to make mowing easier, or allowed the stones to become building blocks for new construction.