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Remembered Today:

Lt-Col. William Claudius Casson ASH, 23rd Middlesex Regt


Perth Digger

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I am seeking information about Lt-Col. W.C.C.Ash, OC 23rd Middlesex Regiment, who was mortally wounded on 15 September 1916, dying on 29 September. He is buried at Etaples cemetery. I am particularly interested in finding out more about his wife, Edith Learoyd Ash. Any help will be gratefully received.

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I am studying 123 Bde and have a few notes on Ash but nothing on his wife I'm afraid. Does his service file still exist at Kew ? 15th Sept was, of course, the battle of Flers (my grandfather was there too).

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I am studying 123 Bde and have a few notes on Ash but nothing on his wife I'm afraid. Does his service file still exist at Kew ? 15th Sept was, of course, the battle of Flers (my grandfather was there too).

I have checked WO339, WO374 and WO138, but nothing comes up. I know that he entered the army in 1892; was Adjutant to the 5th Middlesex in South Africa; was promoted Major in 1909; was in Malta when the war began; was wounded at Loos 25 Sept. 1915, and promoted Lt-Col in October 1915. I do not know how he was fatally wounded. His wife interests me because she annually placed an In Memoriam notice in the papers from 1917 until 1954, each time including a different epigraph. I'd be grateful for any additional information.

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Morning

1901 census has this slightly inaccurate record

Name: Edith Q Ash

Age: 36

Estimated Birth Year: abt 1865

Relation: Wife

Spouse's Name: William C C

Gender: Female

Where born: Birmingham, Warwickshire, England

Civil Parish: Woolwich

Ecclesiastical parish: St John the Evangelist

County/Island: London

Country: England

Street address: 1 Nightingale Place, Woolwich.

Occupation:

Condition as to marriage:

Education:

Employment status:

View Image

Registration district: Woolwich

Sub registration district: Woolwich

ED, institution, or vessel: 5

Neighbors: View others on page

Household schedule number: 10

Household Members:

Name Age

Edith C K Ash 2 - born Madras

Edith Q Ash 36

Mary G Ash 5 - born London

William C C Ash 31 - recorded as 'Army Officer 3rd Middlesex Regt'.

Ada P Wheeles 31 - Servant/nurse

Hope it helps

David

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His wife's name was Edith Learoyd Barnett. Their marriage was registered March quarter 1894, Marylebone registration district.

His birth was registered March quarter 1870, Marylebone registration district.

Her birth was registered September quarter 1865, Kings Norton registration district.

There's a reference to the couple here: http://www.allinsectsdir.com/cricket/ashcricket/

If you put "w c c ash" into Google there are a few hits. One - http://www.lords.org/history/mcc-history/f...our,831,AR.html - is of interest. I see at least one other name (C. S. Awdry) that is the subject of a current thread on the GWF.

He is commemorated on the Mill Hill War Memorial http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Middlesex/MillHill.html

His DSO was noted in The Times 14th January 1916.

I was looking for an obit. in The Times - found nothing, but there there is one listed here: http://www.blacksheepindex.co.uk/GREATWAR%20An-Ay.pdf

It looks as though he played cricket for the MCC in 1896 - reference in The Times 18th July 1896.

Noel

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Dear David

Good evening and many thanks for this information. It really helps me. I had had no indication that they had children, or that they must have been stationed in India. Strangely, I was brought up about two miles from Woolwich!

Thanks again.

Mike

Morning

1901 census has this slightly inaccurate record

Name: Edith Q Ash

Age: 36

Estimated Birth Year: abt 1865

Relation: Wife

Spouse's Name: William C C

Gender: Female

Where born: Birmingham, Warwickshire, England

Civil Parish: Woolwich

Ecclesiastical parish: St John the Evangelist

County/Island: London

Country: England

Street address: 1 Nightingale Place, Woolwich.

Occupation:

Condition as to marriage:

Education:

Employment status:

View Image

Registration district: Woolwich

Sub registration district: Woolwich

ED, institution, or vessel: 5

Neighbors: View others on page

Household schedule number: 10

Household Members:

Name Age

Edith C K Ash 2 - born Madras

Edith Q Ash 36

Mary G Ash 5 - born London

William C C Ash 31 - recorded as 'Army Officer 3rd Middlesex Regt'.

Ada P Wheeles 31 - Servant/nurse

Hope it helps

David

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Dear Noel

Thanks very much for this fascinating information. In one memorial notice she refers to him having been a sportsman, so that question is answered. I have access to the Times, so I can follow up your info (my search abilities are not so good as yours, obviously).

Thanks again.

Mike

His wife's name was Edith Learoyd Barnett. Their marriage was registered March quarter 1894, Marylebone registration district.

His birth was registered March quarter 1870, Marylebone registration district.

Her birth was registered September quarter 1865, Kings Norton registration district.

There's a reference to the couple here: http://www.allinsectsdir.com/cricket/ashcricket/

If you put "w c c ash" into Google there are a few hits. One - http://www.lords.org/history/mcc-history/f...our,831,AR.html - is of interest. I see at least one other name (C. S. Awdry) that is the subject of a current thread on the GWF.

He is commemorated on the Mill Hill War Memorial http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Middlesex/MillHill.html

His DSO was noted in The Times 14th January 1916.

I was looking for an obit. in The Times - found nothing, but there there is one listed here: http://www.blacksheepindex.co.uk/GREATWAR%20An-Ay.pdf

It looks as though he played cricket for the MCC in 1896 - reference in The Times 18th July 1896.

Noel

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Mike,

I can send you the stuff from The Times if you wish. Saves you looking for it. I have on-line access through the State Library of Victoria.

Are you in Perth W.A.?

Noel

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Hi Noel

That's a very kind offer, but I have direct access from home through my university. If you ever have trouble getting access, just let me know.

Yes, I'm in Perth, aka Dullsville, which suits me fine.

Mike

Mike,

I can send you the stuff from The Times if you wish. Saves you looking for it. I have on-line access through the State Library of Victoria.

Are you in Perth W.A.?

Noel

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  • 12 years later...
ReedWhitford

Hello,

 

I am the grandson of WCC Ash, and I have a few fascinating stories about this fascinating man. Email me if you want them.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
Mark Nicholls

Hi, my wife is Susan Ash. Her Grandfather Sidney Vernon Ash was was W C C's Cousin. Sidney

 also served in WW1 (Queen's Westminster's) and was wounded at Passchendaele 1917. We are researching Sue's amazing family and I, being a regular visitor to the battlegrounds of the western front, am particularly interested in W C C and the many other Ash's of that generation who served. Please contact me! 

 

 

Email address removed moved from public view, please do not put any personal details on here as spammers can harvest, members can use private messages. 

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ReedWhitford

Okay, a couple of stories:

 

My great-great grandfather Ash was an excellent soldier, but a complete, willful eccentric. During the War, he was awarded the DSO, which is quite a high honour, and which is pinned to one's chest personally by the King himself. The problem was that Claude did not believe in medals. He thought they were rot. "One does one's duty as an officer and a British subject and that's all." He was only persuaded to go back to London and accept the award because to reject it, he was told, would be a personal insult to the King.

 

He also would not follow regulations he didn't agree with. In 1895, the Learoyds were sleeping soundly in their home, until they were woken by noise which sounded like a burglar. A burglar! And it was coming from their 30-year-old spinster daughter's bedroom. Mr. Learoyd burst into the room and caught Wm Claude Casson Ash literally sneaking out the window! Quel horreur! Not just a burglar, a rapist!  After some soap-opera-ish contretemps they received the following explanation: It was not a rape, or worse, a sleazy "affair" with moustache-twirling lothario seducing their virginal Victorian daughter -- but a conjugal visit! Their daughter, Anne, and Lt. Ash had actually married in secret! They had had to, because Army regulations did not allow a Lt. to marry, and Claude wasn't going to let any damn regulation interfere with him being with the love of his life! Not only that, but Claude was five years younger than her, a distinctly outre situation in the late 19th century, when it was almost always the man who was older than his wife. Their first daughter, Mary was born a year later, and three years after, my grandmother, Edith Claudia Kathleen. From all accounts it was a very loving household, within the constraints of Victorian/Edwardian social life. 

 

When Claude was injured, he was left on the battlefield in a crater. At the end of day, he had not returned to his unit. His batman then left the trench, went into the horrifically dangerous No-Man's-Land  and searched for Major Ash the whole night, found him, and dragged him back. Claude's leg had to be amputated, and he lived another two weeks before succumbing to infection. His wife, Ann, was informed, and took it upon herself to travel to France to visit her beloved husband, but he died only hours before she arrived.

 

Every year, on the anniversary of his death, from 1918 to 1956, her death, Ann (Learoyd) Ash published a memorial in the newspaper.

 

Does that give you an idea of the character of WCC Ash?

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ReedWhitford

Apologies for misnaming Edith as Ann. Edith and Ann were frequently used in my family history, and I sometimes get them mixed in my mind. Likewise I did not mention Barnett. I typed my answer without bothering to reread my family tree. I do have pictures of both Claudius and Edith and will post them if requested.

 

One more story about great-grandfather Claude.

 

After the family had left India and come back to England, they lived in a small house whose dining room was directly beside the front door. There was no elevation to the house, so persons walking up the path to the front door could see directly into the dining room through the large window. Claude would sit on the house side (not the window side) of the table so that he could watch out the window. If a person he did not want to see came up the path while the family were eating, he would lift up his napkin, place it over his face, and refuse to answer the door, or let any of his family answer the door. I was told this by my grandmother, his second daughter, Edith Claudia Kathleen Ash.

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ReedWhitford

And if you want a story about Edith, I have two:

 

1) Before she married, Edith did Victorian-spinster things, such as needlepoint. I have 2 of her excellent needlepoints, about 13" x 24". I chose them as my inherited items when my grandmother died.  They are wonderful examples of folk art, and since they have been kept from sun, the colours are still bright and vivid.

 

2) As might be gathered from her secret marriage, Edith was quite forward-looking for one of her age. In the 1950's, until many of her age group, she would frequently stump down the hill (she lived in a Georgian townhome at the top of Richmond Hill, Bath) to go see her favourite movie star, Danny Kaye. Well, she fell one day and broke her hip. As a proper Victorian lady she had NEVER, NOT ONCE cut her hair; it extended to her ankles. The hospital staff found it so much trouble that, against her wishes, they cut it all off! She was deeply offended by this.

 

As she was lying in her hospital bed, the doctor came by and told her that she would have to move from her bedroom upstairs in her home, and take up residence in the ground-floor room behind the dining room. "As you," the doctor said, "Will never walk again." Edith said nothing, but as soon as the doctor left, she dragged the visitor's chair over, pulled herself out of bed, and started pushing herself around the room. She never did have to move into the ground floor room, which she considered an abhorrent thing ("What? Sleep in a room directly beside where we eat? Never!") In less than a year she was back walking down to the park (with a cane) to have tea and gossip with her buddies.

 

I hope all this is entertaining and illuminating to everyone else on this thread!

 

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Mark Nicholls

Great stuff! What a family. Some fabulous stories, thank you for shedding more light on Claude's unique character and also the indomitable spirit of the Ash women - a recurring theme! My wife Sue (Ash) is thrilled to hear all this as she pieces together the jigsaw of her ancestral family.

 

Yes, please do post or send me a link to photos! The Ash family must be the least photographed (or the most private!) family in history!!

 

The only visual reference we have to Claude is the stained glass window image of him from All Saints Church in Old Heathfield near his father's country house which we visited when we were in the area.  It would be good to compare and see any likeness. We understand that the window (which also features images of his wife Edith and daughters and includes purple and green colour references to the Suffragette movement) was commissioned by his wife and daughters. His parents William Henry and Mary Esther also have a window in the church. 

 

As the grandson of Edith and Eric Reed, you come from a proud military dynasty. Are you in the military yourself? Are you a UK resident? We loved the Bath reference - a town we often visit - but a shame about the hair!

 

Stained glass window photo attached...

 

Best wishes

 

Mark

E C Ash Stained Glass Heathfield All Saints Church.jpg

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