Researched by John Mills
Herbert was born on the 16th June 1885 in India. He was baptised on the 8th July 1885 at St John’s Church in Meerut. He was the son of George Friend, a Lance Corporal in the Kings Own Scottish Borders. Nothing is known about Herbert’s childhood and early life. In fact the next that is known about Herbert is that he is a soldier with the Yorkshire Regiment.
His service number, 9970, would indicate that he joined around December 1911 and was in the 2nd Battalion. He had been stationed at The Curragh at some point and while there he met his future wife Nora who lived nearby on the Harrison Estate in County Kildare. They were married on the 21st January 1916 while Herbert was home on leave from France. He attained the rank of Corporal on the 31st October 1914 and by October 1916 was a CSM.
Herbert would survive the war and by 1919 he was part of the Expeditionary force sent to the Archangel area of Russia to assist the White Russians against the Bolsheviks. This campaign is well documented for the severe conditions and brutality. By September 1919 he was on his way home but in a poor state of health.
Herbert and Nora settled in Reading and had two children, George and Enid. On the 14th January 1924 Herbert left the service’ He was given a presentation clock, the inscription reading ‘A token of esteem from members of the Mess to Coy Sgt Major Friend 2nd Bn. The Green Howards on leaving the service’.
Sadly Herbert died from pulmonary tuberculosis on the 18th November 1928 aged just 43. He was awarded a posthumous Military Medal. His wife Nora had also contracted tuberculosis. She returned to live in County Kildare with her children and, also sadly, died soon after. Their son George joined the RAF in 1938 and was killed in action on the 23rd July 1941.
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At over six feet tall and 22 stone, Bill Moore must have been an impressive sight! While originally from Wells, he made his way to the north of England with his travelling boxing booth. For a time he set up at Darlington, but at the outbreak of war in 1914, Moore decided to move his show to Catterick Camp. The ‘Tommies’ must have enjoyed what he had to offer. Boxing matches even involved Annie, his daughter and a captive bear which on one occasion escaped onto local moorland. Military Police eventually tracked the animal down, much to the relief of the locals.
Otto Wedgewood was born in July 1882 at Bredgar in Kent to Rowland and Annie Wedgwood. He was a descendant of Thomas Wedgwood, the elder brother of the famous potter Josiah Wedgewood. Otto was one of six children. The 1891 census has Otto’s father’s occupation as ‘living on own means’ and was successful enough to employ two servants. The 1901 census shows Otto was living at the home of his nephew George Maxstead in Hornsea Yorkshire. Otto at the time was an Engineer Apprentice. On the 24th October 1914 Otto embarked from London to Bombay in India. His occupation on the passenger list is given as ‘Expert’ and presumably the trip was work related. It is not certain when he returned to Britain. However, it probable that he felt he had to ‘do his bit’ for the war effort and so came home. He subsequently joined the Royal Engineers. From the 4th May 1917 he served with CRE IX Corps. The London Gazette of the 4th December 1915 details Otto attaining the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. By the end of the war he was a Captain. Otto spent time in Canada in the early 1930s but by 1939 he was back in England working as a Cement Works Manager at Gravesend in Kent. In 1944 he married Stella Vincett in Chatham. Otto died on the 23rd May 1957 and was cremated five days later at Greenwich in London. He was 74 years old. Otto’s Granddaughter, Jeanette Schofield, in Richmond.
When canvassing the local businesses for information about characters from the time of the First World War for our Ribbon of Remembrance, a major surprise came from Wendy, shop manager at the Castle Hill Bookshop. “You know what my name is?!” was her reply to the enquiry. Wendy Patch is the granddaughter of Harry Patch, the ‘Last Fighting Tommy’. Henry John Patch died on 25th July 2009, aged 111 years, having attained a level of celebrity that he can never have imagined at the time when he was No 2 on a Lewis gun team in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. Harry was an apprentice plumber before he was conscripted into the army at the age of 18. He saw action at the Third Battle of Ypres, though his war came to an end on 22nd September 1917 following a German shell burst which killed three of his fellow Lewis gunners. Harry’s wound saw him hospitalised for 12 months. The Armistice came about while he was convalescing on the Isle of Wight. Following the war, Harry married Ada Billington, had two sons Denis and Roy and returned to work as a plumber. Harry only spoke about the war in the latter part of his life and when he did it was without any animosity towards the Germans who faced him across No-man’s Land. As one of the few Great War veterans who survived into the 21st century, Harry was invited to Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street. He was…