The day was dark
The rain was heavy
The sun had stayed away,
But in my heart
A light so bright
Brought thoughts of you all day.
(‘Dark Day’ by Barry Rees)
Today is Remembrance Sunday. It is also exactly 100 years since the signing of the Armistice, which brought the fighting to an end in The Great War – with the formal end of the war on June 28, 1919, when Germany and the Allied Nations (including Britain, France, Italy and Russia) signed the Treaty of Versailles.
The war had resulted in the deaths of some 6 million allied and around 4 million enemy personnel. It has been estimated that around 7 million civilians were also killed1.
Most communities in the UK were affected, losing at least one son, brother, husband or father – and occasionally a daughter, sister, wife or mother – (those undertaking nursing, driving ambulances of killed in accidents in munitions factories).
As at October 2013, 53 civil parishes in England and Wales have been identified where all their folk who fought in the war returned home. These have been named ‘Thankful Villages’ – none yet have been identified in Scotland or Ireland2.
I have, so far identified four individuals from the Rees Scott family tree, who died during The Great War – shown in the red boxes:
Tom Henry REES (1874-1914)
My Great Uncle, Tom Henry Rees was Born on 30th April 1874, in Upper Machen, Monmouthshire. He was registered as Tom Henry Rees (rather than as Thomas). He signed on with the Royal Navy on 25th May 1893, for 12 years, starting as a Stoker and ending up as a Chief Stoker (Chief Petty Officer level).
On 1st November 1914 he was Chief Stoker on HMS Monmouth, when, as part of Rear Admiral Craddock’s 4th Cruiser Squadron, they took on the might of the German Navy, led by Vice-Admiral Maximilian von Spee, at the Battle of Coronel.
HMS Monmouth and HMS Good Hope were out classed by the German ships and were both sunk with the loss of 1,418 officers and sailors.
The Cwmfelinfach and District Reception Committee (near Caerphilly, South Wales) issued the following ‘In Memoriam’ certificate to Tom’s family:
Tom left a wife (Jane Philp Rees – nee Jago) and five children (one other child had died in 1901).
Francis Regis GREEN (1895-1917)
A second cousin, twice removed, Francis – known as Frank, Regis Green, was born in 1895, at St James, Victoria, Australia. Frank joined up on 3rd March 1916 – having had 18 months in the Cadets. He was described as being 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing 9 stone, 7 pounds. He had a fair complexion and hair, with grey eyes. He was a Roman Catholic.
Originally with the 19/5th Battalion AIF, he was serving with the 60th Battalion AIF in December 1916 when he was admitted to the 38th Casualty Clearing Station, in France, with Trench Foot, and evacuated to a hospital in Colchester, England. By 9th March 2017, he was back in France. He was killed in action on 18th May 1917, according to his service record, however, his details on the Commonwealth War Graves site state his death as being on 12th May 1917 3.
Frank is commemorated on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial:
Photo uploaded on findagrave.com by ‘Have Paws will travel !’4
Frank’s death was referenced in a newspaper article about his footballing brother Gordon (see here for more on Gordon) 5. It also mentions another brother, Tom, who was fighting in France – but he survived the war:
Harry George Levy (1895 – 1918)
Another second cousin, twice removed, Harry George Levy was born on the Isle of Sheppey in January 1895. At the time of the 1911 Census, Harry was a ‘presser’ at a glass bottle works in Sheerness.
Although I have been unable to find a service record for Harry, his medal card shows he was in the Royal Field Artillery, with service number 96054, and the Commonwealth War Graves site shows that he died on 17th October 1918, aged 23 – just 25 days before the end of hostilities 6.
At the time of his death, he was serving as a Gunner in the 24th Div. Ammunition Column of the Royal Field Artillery. Harry was buried in the Delsaux Farm Cemetery, Beugny, France, in plot I. G. 27 – Stone No 198. Harry’s mother, Maria Jane, arranged for the words ‘His Duty Was Done’ to be inscribed on his headstone 6.
Richard Glenmark REES (1880 – ?)
Another Great Uncle, and Tom’s brother, Richard Glenmark Rees was born on 22nd November 1880, at 17 Allen Street, Mountain Ash, Glamorgan, Wales.
I have yet to find any definitive information on Richard’s death, however, we have the following photo in the Rees Scott Archive, showing ‘Glen’ in uniform:
In addition to the certificate for Tom Rees, the Cwmfelinfach and District Reception Committee issued the following ‘In Memoriam’ certificate for Richard:
Despite his distinctive middle name (incorrectly recorded as Glanmark on his birth certificate), I have been unable to find any reference to him after the war, which does tend to suggest he was killed in the war. There are so many combinations of Richard Rees / Glen Rees on the Commonwealth Graves site, which makes it difficult to highlight which one he may be. We have several relatives who were given the middle name ‘Glenmark’, which we originally believed were in tribute to Richard, however, we have since found an earlier ‘Glenmark’ so this was not necessarily the case (see here for the post on Glenmarks).
There may be more casualties from the Great War, that I have not yet found, however, these four deserve to be remembered on this special Remembrance Sunday – 100 years after the hostilities stopped.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
(from ‘For the Fallen’ by Laurence Binyon)
Figures taken from: https://www.historyonthenet.com/how-many-people-died-in-ww1 accessed 11th November 2018
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thankful_Villages accessed 11th November 2018
https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1461319/green,-francis-regis/ accessed 11th November 2018
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/16183200/francis-regis-green/photo accessed 11th November 2018
The Herald Newspaper. 8 June 1917, Page 3, Column 2. Accessed at: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/ on 9 September 2018
https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/240225/levy,-/ accessed 11th November 2018