Peter Seaden-Jones visited us at a drop-in session at Richmond Station. From a photograph of his grandfather, we have managed to piece together the key details of Ernest John Pilcher’s war story.
Ernest John Pilcher was born in Pietermaritzberg, Natal, South Africa in around 1881. According to the 1891 census, he appears to live in Chester as the 9 year old son of Frederick and Lucy Pilcher. He has a sister Edith and two brothers Archie and Arthur. His siblings are born in the U.K. but his father’s occupation as an Army Warrant Officer may explain Ernest’s birth in South Africa.
On the 26th of December 1907 at the age of 26 he married Florence Alltimes at the Balham Hill Ascension church in Streatham. Florence was 23 years old at the time of their wedding. His occupation is recorded as a grocer.
In the 1911 census Ernest and Florence were recorded as living at 23, Sussex street in Pimlico. He is listed as “Manager in the business of grocery stores”. Marjorie Edith their daughter was just 2 years old.
At the age of 34 years and 6 months he enlisted in the army on the 22nd of November 1915. By this time his attestation record shows that he and Florence have a second daughter Peggy Dorothy born on the 6th of July 1913. Their address is now 20, Bellenden Road, Camberwell and his occupation is recorded as a “Traveller”.
Although originally assigned to the Royal Field Artillery he transferred to the Devon Regiment having the service number 58799.
On the 14th of January 1917 he transferred to 174th Labour Corps (number 104133) based in Woolwich. This may well be as a result of injury or illness as his medical grade is recorded as C1. This rating meant that he was not fit for active service only Garrison service at home camps. Ernest by now lived at Clapham Park Terrace, Lyham Road, Brixton.
After the war he must have moved away from London as he and Florence are listed on the electoral register of Southend on Sea and he is in the sweets and tobacco trade.In the latter part of his life he lived in Devon and passed away at the age of 94 while in Malta.
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Helen Bennett visited the museum to tell us about Gardner Kennedy. (William Robert) Gardner Kennedy was my paternal Irish Grandmother’s first cousin. He was the son of Mary and William Kennedy of Ardbana House Coleraine, Northern Ireland. His father had an engineering firm. He was my Irish Grandmother’s cousin. (Annie Morton McMillan of Turnagrove Co Antrim) There is a very strong familial likeness between Gardner Kennedy and his Turnagrove cousins, most of whom I knew. Gardner Kennedy died on the Swaben Redout on July 1st 1916 which is where his regiment the Royal Iniskilling Fusiliers fought Reg no:18637. Lance Corporal, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. He has no known grave and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, and on the Coleraine War memorial, although on the latter his Christian name is incorrectly spelt. He enlisted on 5th October 1915. His brother, Lieutenant John Alexander Kennedy, survived the war. However further tragedy struck the family on 2nd March 1917 when the Kennedy family lost their only daughter, Mary Boddie, wife of Geoffrey W Boddie. Comment: About 1959 or 1960 I visited Edie Kennedy who (I presume) was Gardner Kennedy’s sister law at Ardbana House, a splendid detached house full of faded elegance. I met Jack, Edie’s son who was a wild child, liked building his own racing cars. Of Edie, I remember only a little old lady, shrunken but lively, sitting regally amongst the faded and cluttered Second Empire furniture in front of a huge fireplace with…
Researched by Will Young. Born on 20th July 1897 at Port Elgin, Ontario, Canada, Evan Kerruish was destined to be burried in distant Catterick at the age of 20. His parents were the Rev. Thomas and Mrs Maria Kerruish of Hamilton, Ontario. He enlisted into 153 (Wellington) Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 6th October 1915. He sailed from Halifax, Nova Scotia on the sister ship of the Titanic, the SS Olympic on 29th April 1917 and landed at Liverpool on 7 May. Kerruish was commissioned into the Royal Naval Air Service on 9th October 1917, serving with Torpedo Squadron No 1. The cause of his death on 13th July 1918 and reason for burial at Catterick are unknown.
Howard Muckle a resident of Richmond for the last 50 years (via Corbridge and Newcastle) provided this story of his grandfather, Blackbird Baggott. Blackbird Baggott (named after his mother Jane Blackbird) joined the Hawke Battalion of the Royal Naval division in 1915 and served at Gallipoli as an infantryman between May and August that year. The British Royal Naval Division was made up of men from the Royal Navy and its reserve forces. These men, who were not needed at sea, fought on land alongside the Army during World War One. The records cover more than 50,000 officers and ratings who joined the Royal Naval Division or who passed through Crystal Palace, London when it was used as an initial training centre during the First World War. Blackbird was transferred to the Army Service Corps and then the Royal Flying Corps as a Fitter from 1916 to 1919. After being demobbed in 1920 he married and had two children but rejoined the RAF in 1923 (with service number 47402). He served with 1 Squadron, 55 Squadron in Iraq from 1926 – 28, and then 503 Squadron in the UK, with whom he was serving when he died in 1935. His death certificate stated Blackbird Baggott died of Malnutrition whilst based on a training camp at RAF Halton.