John Avery was a miner and lived at Felling on Tyne, Co. Durham. He was married to Elizabeth Anne Speight. He was 29 years old when he enlisted at the outbreak of war and was initially posted to the 10th Battalion but subsequently served in the 11th and 8th.
John suffered a gunshot wound to two fingers on his right hand in September 1915 and subsequently from the effects of gassing and shell shock. He was posted to the reserves in early 1917 and sent to work at Heworth Colliery, Felling on Tyne. Due to his wounds he was unable to work full weeks and he applied for a disability pension. He was granted 12 shillings and 6 pence a week to rise to 13/9d and subject to review after 48 weeks.
He was awarded the 14/15 Star, the British War Medal , the Victory Medal and a Silver War Badge.
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Major Harold Carey Matthews was born in 1879, son of F W W Matthews, he went on to join the 4th Battalion Green Howards where he acted as subaltern during the Second Boer War. After retiring from the military he worked for Barclays Bank at Leyburn, where his father also worked. When World War One broke out he re-enlisted with the Green Howards and was promoted to Major, on 29th August 1914. He was killed in action on the 25th April 1915 near Ypres and is buried at Sanctuary Wood Cemetery, Belgium.
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…
John O’Hern is buried in Reeth Road cemetery, Richmond. He died of his wounds after the end of the First World War on 1 February 1919. He entered into service at the age of 29 years and 9 months while living at Mill Lane in Richmond. He worked at the paper mill and had also previously served in the 4th Territorial Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. His medal card shows his original regimental number (1669) and also his later number (200238) – as the 4th Battalion issued new nubmers in 1917. He was tried by Court Martial at Baizeiux on 9 October for being drunk on parade – after 6 days confinement he paid a 10 shilling fine. The card shows that not only did he receive the three well known medals nicknamed ‘Pip, Squeak and Wilfred’ – so called after a cartoon strip in the Daily Mirror, but also a Silver War badge due to his injuries towards the end of the war. Owing to a terrible gunshot wound to the spine, John O’Hern became paralysed. A bullet was removed from his spine through surgery in April 1918, but he died as a result of this battlefield injury months later.