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wainfleet

2/4th Hants. Who was "young Scott"?

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wainfleet

    I came across the following story in "Ghosts and Hauntings" by Dennis Bardens, published in 1965, and found it interesting enough to try and follow up.

    "A strange story of a death visitant or apparition at the moment of death, was related to me by Mr. W. H. Curtis, of Northam Avenue, Upper Shirley, Southampton.

    In 1914 he was serving with his regiment in India, and "...in due course we were sent on service to Palestine where we drove Johnny Turk up into the hills of Judea and there, one morning, got surprised by a shower of Turks. During the resulting battle I was wounded, but managed to obtain first aid then, by stretcher and mule cart, I reached the first casualty clearing station, a small place situated in an orchard and looking very clean and pretty in the early morning sun. They carried me in and as we paused for a moment outside the Medical Officer's tent, I was surprised to see young Scott come up to me ("young Scott" was a member of his regiment whom he did not know particularly well though they exchanged pleasantries).

    "Hullo, Scott old man, you here?" were my first words, but he did not speak - only smiled. I noticed how pale he looked, and how the freckles on his face stood out in marked contrast; I also noticed what seemed to be a large patch of dried blood on part of his head and neck. I thought it rather odd for a man to be walking about without a wound-dressing of some sort, but at that moment I saw the M.O. coming towards me, so I said to Scott: "Come along and see us when I've got through with this lot". Then the M.O. came up and seemed to jostle with him somewhat; with that Scott walked away.

    Next I was in a tent looking through the flies, when I saw a pair of legs come along. Someone bent down and I recognised a corporal of my company who came out with the all too familiar query: had I seen any of our fellows on the way? I said "No, only Scott, he's here somewhere." With that the corporal said "That's queer, I thought I was the only one until you came."

    Later on I started my journey to hospital. On the way I encountered some men, one of whom threatened to knock my block off when, in answer to his questions, I said I'd seen Scott; but neither of us was in any condition to fight, so we went our different ways. Feeling a bit mystified, I decided to say no more about it. Then, about two years afterwards when I was back in Blighty, I met the Quarters of my old company and we fell to talking about the different battles. I asked him if he remembered Scott. "Yes indeed I do", he answered. "Corporal Brown and I helped to bury him and his comrades just behind the ridge where they fell." Did he, I asked, happen to notice where Scott was hit? "Yes, at the back of the head and neck." I then found the corporal, who verified this.

   Some time later, in conversation with his mother, Mr. Curtis learned that his father had met young Scott's father. "Then", said Mr. Curtis, "a great light seemed to dawn on me, for I remembered years before, as a young boy, travelling round one summer with my parents when they were looking for a suitable public house to take over. During the course of our travels we visited a certain village, where we stayed longer than usual and while my parents talked business I spent the afternoon playing with the innkeeper's son. We got on first-rate, what with his rabbits, and he had some boxing gloves, but I never met him again. So I did not know what to think, and still do not; suffice it to say that it made a lasting impression on me all my life."

 

   I thought it should be possible to identify the protagonists in this story. To have been in India by 1914, Mr. Curtis must have been either a regular or in his local TA unit.

   Checking the Hampshire Regiment details on the Long Long Trail pages, the only battalions to serve, first in India and then in Palestine, were the 2/4th and 2/5th, both in the 75th Division. There are several W. Curtis's in these battalions.

   Pte. William Curtis 201655 is entitled to SWB 483300, but his record states that he enlisted 5.11.15, so evidently it's not him.

   Pte. William Curtis 31975 is entitled to SWB B89764. His record states that he enlisted 27.8.14, but initially in the Dorset Regiment, which seems unlikely if our Curtis was living in Southampton.

   L/Cpl. William Curtis 27453 is entitled to SWB 350407. His record states that he enlisted 21.5.14. He is entitled to the Territorial Force War Medal but was discharged from the 14th (S) Bn 11.3.18 and evidently was acting L/Cpl, as he is shown as Pte on his MIC. Unfortunately his service record has not survived, but he is shown on the medal roll as 4th Hants, then 14th Hants. The 14th were serving in France so he seems unlikely.

   Pte. William Henry Curtis is shown on the WW1 medal rolls as serving with the 1/6th Hants as no. 2582 and the 2/4th Hants as no. 281066. No SWB is shown on his record, but he has the same initials, is the only candidate to fit and I think he must be our man.

  The 1911 census shows only one possible candidate close to the Shirley, Southampton area: William Henry Curtis, a cellarman aged 17 living with his parents James, a carter, and Annie Curtis, and his brother and sister Bertram and Dorothy at 20 Aberdeen Road, St. Denys, Southampton.

 

   So far so good, but there were no Scotts killed in the Hampshire Regiment at the relevant place and time. The name had clearly been changed to avoid family sensitivities. Whichever of the two Curtis candidates is the correct one, the battalion must be the 2/4th. The battle that best fits the description, and the one in which the 2/4th suffered most casualties, is Nebi Samwil in 1917. The 2/4th Hants suffered their heaviest casualties on 22 November 1917, so I assume this is when "Scott" was killed.

   I began researching this several years ago but it got put off, and I no longer have access to Ancestry so can't search 2/4th casualties for that day. There is a 2/4th battalion history online but it doesn't list OR casualties. Curtis was about 23, so we can reasonably assume that "young Scott" was about the same age or slightly younger. If anyone else feels motivated to dig further, I'd be very interested to know what they come up with.

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Michelle Young
wainfleet

   Thanks Michelle. I really don't know why I look there!

   Sixteen 2/4th Hants men were killed on that day, but after discounting those obviously too old it seems there are seven people Scott could have been. Some of the names and numbers on CWGC are a bit off, so here are the possibles as per their MICs plus any further details from CWGC.

   Private Frederick Gilliam, 201252, age 19, son of John and Edna Allen Gilliam of 3 Bow St, Newton, Alton.

   Private William G. Greenough, 4/1675 then 200111, age 21, "C" Coy, son of William James and Ada Elizabeth Greenough of 31 Lower Broadmoor, Crowthorne, Berks.

   Private Percy Dear, 20124, age 21, son of William George and Grace Alice Dear, of 12 Solby's Road, Basingstoke.

   Private Alfred Slocombe, 40556, no further details.

   Private Walter F. Emery, 5549 then 202677, no further details.

   Private Wilfred Osborn, 201677, no further details (but CWGC states Lance-Corporal).

   Private Frank Parsons, 201833, no details.
 

   Of the above, Gilliam seems too young. Greenough and Dear are the right age but Basingstoke is hardly a village, though of course his parents could have moved there anytime. Emery, Osborn and Parsons are all unknown quantities, but the similarity of Slocombe to Scott is typical of how names used to be "disguised" while retaining something of the original identity. Curtis almost certainly wouldn't have imagined anyone searching for it.

   My gut feeling is for Slocombe, but it's not possible to say any more without knowing the ages of the others, their addresses on attestation and in the 1911 census, and the father's profession which presumably ought to be Publican or similar.

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charlie962
17 minutes ago, wainfleet said:

but it's not possible to say any more without knowing the ages of the others, their addresses

In a couple of weeks time there is the next release of Pension Records via WFA. This covers all record cards relating to those who died, as I understand it. Should enable you to find more key detail, if you cannot via Soldiers Effects ?

 

He may have given Scott the name because he had Scottish origins. Does SDGW give any clues ?

 

Charlie

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charlie962

Here are SDGW entries for the last 4 :

 

Forename     Alfred
Surname     Slocombe
Born     Huntspill, Somersetshire
Enlisted     Bridgewater, Somerset
Place of Residence     East Huntspill, Somerset

 

1911 Census  Alfred Slocombe, 15 , Farm Labourer Huntspill, b E Huntspill, Son of a Boiler Maker

 

Forename     Walter Francis
Surname     Emery
Born     London
Enlisted     Alton, Hants
Service Number     202677

 

1911 Census, Walter Emery, 24, Assistant to his father a Restaurant keeper (Welcome Restaurant), Alton, born London

 

Forename     Wilfred
Surname     Osborn
Enlisted     Alton, Hants
Place of Residence     Shefford, Beds
Service Number     201677

 

1911 Census probably Wilfred Osborne, 18, barber, Shefford, b Shefford, grandson of a farm labourer


Forename     Frank
Surname     Parsons
Born     Montacute, Somerset
Enlisted     Basingstoke, Hants
Place of Residence     Montacute, Somerset

 

1911 Frank Parsons, 34, Keeper, Overton Born Montacute.

 

So much for a Scottish connection !

 

 

Edited by charlie962

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charlie962

Walter Emery above seems to be in the right trade but a bit old. Connection of Walter Scott ?

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PRC

Alfred Slocombe is shown on SDGW as born Huntspill. Somersetshire, resident East Huntspill, Somersetshire and enlisted Bridgewater, Somersetshire. He was Killed in Action.

 

There are two potential candidates on the 1911 Census of England and Wales.

 

One is a 15 year old Farm Labourer, born East Huntspill, son of a Frank Slocombe, a Boiler Maker at a Railway Co Carriage Works, born East Huntspill. His mother was Sarah Slocombe, born North Pertherton. The family were living at Cote, All Saints Lane, East Huntspill. No obvious match in the Civil Death records for England and Wales.

 

The other is a 46 year old Railway Engine Driver, Alfred Ernest, born Huntspill, a married man with three children who was the head of the household at Fair View Cottages, Temple Combe, Somerset. The death of a 73 year old Albert E. Slocombe was recorded in the Wincanton District of Somerset in Q3 of 1938. The 1938 Probate Calendar records that an Alfred Ernest Slocimbe of Templecome, Somerset died on the 3rd July 1938.

 

So seens like the “younger” Slocombe is the more likely match for the soldier, although his entry in the Army Register of Soldiers effects might help firm that up.

 

Cheers,

Peter

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charlie962
9 hours ago, wainfleet said:

Pte. William Henry Curtis is shown on the WW1 medal rolls as serving with the 1/6th Hants as no. 2582 and the 2/4th Hants as no. 281066. No SWB is shown on his record, but he has the same initials, is the only candidate to fit and I think he must be our man.

He 281066 was in Casualty List 8/1/18 as Wounded, NoK Portsmouth

 

That would fit with a late Nov 1917 early Dec 1917actual  wounding.

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charlie962

There's a William Henry Curtis b 1898 Portsmouth, liiving in Portsmouth 1911, son of William James Curtis who retired from the Royal Navy between the 1901 and 1911 Census. At the point of retirement Wm Jas Curtis , b 1865, would seem like a man who might look for a pub for his early retirement ? But the 1911 Census shows him as a Naval Pensioner living in Portsmouth. Perhaps his Naval Service Record might throw some light ?

 

edit-  but born 1898 would make him too young to be in India 1914, wouldn't it ?

 

edit edit-  Or would it be ok to go to India in 1914 but not to a theatre of war until 1916 (his MIC says BWM/VM only)  ?

 

 

Edited by charlie962

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David Tattersfield
1 hour ago, charlie962 said:

In a couple of weeks time there is the next release of Pension Records via WFA. This covers all record cards relating to those who died, as I understand it. Should enable you to find more key detail, if you cannot via Soldiers Effects ?

 

He may have given Scott the name because he had Scottish origins. Does SDGW give any clues ?

 

Charlie

This is correct but is contingent on a pension having been claimed. 

 

No claim means no record 

 

David 

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charlie962
2 minutes ago, David Tattersfield said:

No claim means no record

Thanks, David. Any idea please what percentage did not claim ? (ballpark to get an idea of likely failure rate)

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David Tattersfield
30 minutes ago, charlie962 said:

Thanks, David. Any idea please what percentage did not claim ? (ballpark to get an idea of likely failure rate)

Not able to provide data but very low percentage I believe. 

 

Likely that parents /widows who were wealthy wouldn't claim but most independently wealthy individuals would on balance of probability be commissioned. 

 

As these cards are for "other ranks" I believe most next of kin would claim a pension. 

 

Only after publication and much digging around will patterns emerge. 

 

Hope this helps

 

David 

 

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charlie962
1 hour ago, David Tattersfield said:

Hope this helps

It does indeed. Many thanks

Charlie

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IPT
14 hours ago, wainfleet said:

 The 1911 census shows only one possible candidate close to the Shirley, Southampton area: William Henry Curtis, a cellarman aged 17 living with his parents James, a carter, and Annie Curtis, and his brother and sister Bertram and Dorothy at 20 Aberdeen Road, St. Denys, Southampton.

 

Just a note that this man was 128778 RGA. Served in France.

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wainfleet

Some good info which unfortunately seems to be leading away from instead of towards an answer. I can't see the b. 1898 Curtis being the man; surely too young to enlist, and he'd have been "young Curtis" as opposed to "young Scott"!

 

8 hours ago, IPT said:

Just a note that this man was 128778 RGA. Served in France.

 

Is that a definite ID? If so then unless his attestation papers are available, it looks as if we are stuck as regards finding 281066 Curtis in civilian life.

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IPT
44 minutes ago, wainfleet said:

Is that a definite ID? If so then unless his attestation papers are available, it looks as if we are stuck as regards finding 281066 Curtis in civilian life.

 

Afraid so. Address and mother match on service papers.

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wainfleet
1 hour ago, IPT said:

 

Afraid so. Address and mother match on service papers.

 

 Thanks (sort of!). Am I right in assuming you've looked for 281066 Curtis's papers and not found them?

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George Rayner

On FMP but no attestation/service papers

First name(s) William H
Last name Curtis
Year 1914-20
Service number 2582, 281066
Second service number 281066
Rank Private,Private
Second rank Private
Regiment Hampshire Regiment
Second corps Hampshire Regiment

https://www.findmypast.co.uk/transcript?id=GBM%2FMCI%2F1067832

 

George

 

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IPT

The man's address was given as "Northam Avenue, Upper Shirley, Southampton" in the 1960s.  This is surely Norham Avenue, Upper Shirley.

 

On the 1939 register, we have William H Curtis, carpenter, living at 58 Norham Avenue with wife Beatrice M Curtis. (There is a marriage between William H Curtis and Beatrice M Stewart in 1926). William H was born 9/4/1898 (and died in 1970).

 

In 1911, this man was the 13 year old son of the naval pensioner, mentioned by Charlie above, living at 43 Beaulieu Road, Portsmouth, which is proven by the death of the mother, May Curtis, at 58 Norham Avenue in 1949, aged 82). I believe the father was 131942, who left the Navy in 1907 but rejoined at outbreak of war.

 

We also know, from charlie962's post that 281066's N.O.K. were in Portsmouth in 1917.  In my opinion, this leads us to the conclusion that the correspondent in the OP is probably 281066.

 

With regard to the age issue, you could take the example of 2630/281092 Sgt Albert Victor Symonds, born 1898 (claimed 1896), enlisted in 1/6th Bn 9/10/14, went to India 13/12/14 and Palestine 5/4/17 with 2/5th Bn.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by IPT

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wainfleet
On 09/09/2019 at 16:22, IPT said:

The man's address was given as "Northam Avenue, Upper Shirley, Southampton" in the 1960s.  This is surely Norham Avenue, Upper Shirley.

 

On the 1939 register, we have William H Curtis, carpenter, living at 58 Norham Avenue with wife Beatrice M Curtis. (There is a marriage between William H Curtis and Beatrice M Stewart in 1926). William H was born 9/4/1898 (and died in 1970).

 

In 1911, this man was the 13 year old son of the naval pensioner, mentioned by Charlie above, living at 43 Beaulieu Road, Portsmouth, which is proven by the death of the mother, May Curtis, at 58 Norham Avenue in 1949, aged 82). I believe the father was 131942, who left the Navy in 1907 but rejoined at outbreak of war.

 

We also know, from charlie962's post that 281066's N.O.K. were in Portsmouth in 1917.  In my opinion, this leads us to the conclusion that the correspondent in the OP is probably 281066.

 

With regard to the age issue, you could take the example of 2630/281092 Sgt Albert Victor Symonds, born 1898 (claimed 1896), enlisted in 1/6th Bn 9/10/14, went to India 13/12/14 and Palestine 5/4/17 with 2/5th Bn.

 

I think you must be right IPT, he must have given a false age to join up, as so many did. So if Scott was the same age or thereabouts, that'd be the reason for the "young" bit. We can only assume that William Curtis looked older than he was!

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wainfleet

Curtis would therefore have been 19 in 1917 and thus the only possible candidate now is Gilliam, the same age. Newton (Newton Valence) is a village near Alton. I do believe that we have found "young Scott".

Edited by wainfleet
Clarity

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charlie962
26 minutes ago, wainfleet said:

thus the only possible candidate now is Gilliam

Gilliam's father* had died before 1901 and his mother was living as a widow at 3 Bow Street in both the 1901 and 1911 Census. So I don't think he is your man.

 

Charlie

 

*Edit I think John Gilliam's death is registered Alton 1901 Q1, aged 50

Edited by charlie962

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wainfleet
On 11/09/2019 at 20:52, charlie962 said:

Gilliam's father* had died before 1901 and his mother was living as a widow at 3 Bow Street in both the 1901 and 1911 Census. So I don't think he is your man.

 

Charlie

 

*Edit I think John Gilliam's death is registered Alton 1901 Q1, aged 50


Was Gilliam's mother recorded as living alone in 01 and 11? She might have been living with the innkeeper between those dates and letting people assume that they were married. Perhaps she kept up the Bow St address for reasons of her own?

 

Gilliam is the only one young enough with the possible exception of Slocombe, who would still be two years older than Curtis. And Somerset was a long way to go looking for work if you were in Hampshire. If there is conclusive evidence that it's not Gilliam, that seems to be a dead end.

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charlie962

I agree that 'young Scott' and ' freckles on his face' give the impression of a youngster, plus the fact that when they first met they 'played' together.

 

Apart from Gilliam's youth, I see nothing else to link him.

 

15 hours ago, wainfleet said:

Was Gilliam's mother recorded as living alone in 01 and 11?

She was head with her children.

 

I don't think we've properly ruled out Emery.

Scott would be an obvious nickname for someone called Walter.

Age: There may have been an older Walter in the unit ? hence "young Scott"; OK maybe stretching a bit.

Emery senior was a Restaurant keeper at the time Curtiss senior was leaving the Navy.

Emery junior worked with his father so would have been at the premise when it was visited.

 

Charlie

 

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wainfleet
15 minutes ago, charlie962 said:

I agree that 'young Scott' and ' freckles on his face' give the impression of a youngster, plus the fact that when they first met they 'played' together.

 

Apart from Gilliam's youth, I see nothing else to link him.

 

She was head with her children.

 

I don't think we've properly ruled out Emery.

Scott would be an obvious nickname for someone called Walter.

Age: There may have been an older Walter in the unit ? hence "young Scott"; OK maybe stretching a bit.

Emery senior was a Restaurant keeper at the time Curtiss senior was leaving the Navy.

Emery junior worked with his father so would have been at the premise when it was visited.

 

Charlie

 

Emery would have been 30 in 1917 so the wrong age by some distance to play on equal terms as youngsters. Gilliam's youth is the only thing to link him but he is also the only one the right age. Is the identification of Gilliam's parents definite or is there any room for doubt?

 

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