Shirehampton Book of Remembrance

In Remembrance to the Fallen of the Shirehampton & Avonmouth areas of Bristol

 

 Military Forces in & around Shirehampton & Avonmouth 

 

World War One  

Many significant sites relate to the city's experience of war. During the First World War a complex of sites was developed around Avonmouth docks to supply the British Expeditionary Force fighting in France. There was a remount centre at Shirehampton where horses arriving by sea from the USA and Canada were stabled, a huge motor transport site and factories for manufacturing munitions, including one producing mustard gas. After the war many communities across the city commemorated those killed by creating memorials. These ranged in scale from plaques to buildings and were often sited to be local landmarks.

 

Shirehampton Remount Centre 

 

Shortly after the outbreak of hostilities with Germany on the 4th August 1914, Lord Kitchener, as Secretary of State for War, visited Avonmouth to assess its potential as a port for use by the military. Realising its importance, it was scheduled as a military district and by the 5th August the military took over the dock and the station. It was to play an important part in the war effort.

As fields still surrounded the two villages of Shirehampton and Avonmouth, a Remount Depot was established at Shirehampton which would be in close proximity to the docks for the reception of horses brought in from North and South America. A long series of lines made up of huts spread down from Penpole across the village of Shirehampton almost to the river as quarters for men, horses, blacksmiths, shops, cookhouses, offices and fodder. In these early days, civilian staff were brought in to organize the camp, many of whom were race horse trainers, jockeys and veterinary surgeons, under the supervision of Army officers. The Commandant was Colonel Carter who remained in charge throughout the war.

 

By the February of 1915, each squadron, with the exception of one, had enlisted men. The Remount personnel consisted of a Commandant, Assistant Commandant, Adjutant, Riding Master, Medical Officer (3 per squadron) and five veterinary officers. The depot was divided into 10 squadrons, each able to accommodate 500 animals and 150 men. In addition, a veterinary hospital was established under the separate command of a Captain AVC and four veterinary officers, with accommodation for 600 animals. Many, after being landed at the docks, were driven in teams of about eight along the Shirehampton road to the camp, where they were usually held for some fourteen to twenty days, during which time they were broken in and made fit, after which they were dispatched to the field units in France.

One part of the Remount Camp was situated on low lying ground and in wet weather, a swamp. There was often sickness with the horses, and a number died. The Remount Depot erected a slaughter house in a wooden building along the main road from Shirehampton, but the stench from carcasses of dead horses was continuous. The roads were often untidy and unhealthy with horse manure, which, after a shower of rain, made roads slippery and dangerous; on a dry day with a breeze, thick dust, unpleasant to the taste.

The narrow village roads had to be kept cleaner with water carts used to spray disinfectant. It was a familiar sight to see the body of a dead horse. In 1915, some 339,000 horses were received with another 36,500 by train. The village was very congested, as convoys with troops bound for the docks had to go through the village as there was no Portway; others went by train.

In the September, King George and Queen Mary made a surprise visit to Bristol to see some of the wounded from the war fronts. On arrival in the City, they asked if they could see the Remount Depot at Shirehampton. They were conveyed to the village by train, where they were met by Colonel Carter and some of his staff, from where they were taken by car to the Remount lines.

After the war, because of a housing shortage, local people lived in the huts. The horses were sold to local farmers and tradesmen. The land occupied by the Remount was the property of the Kingsweston Estate, owned by Squire Napier Miles. One large hut remained for many years as a farm, and after the Second World War, as a Community Centre for people in the prefab estate near the Woodwell railway bridge.

 

 

 

The following personnel all enlisted in Shirehampton and were attached to the Remount Depot, (Army Service Corps), before some joined other regiments, only to lose their lives during the First World War.

Private George Abel - Royal Munster Fusiliers. Killed in action 22/03/1918

Private Francis George Adamson - Prince Albert's (Somerset) Light Infantry. Killed in action 30/11/1917

Private Thomas Allcock - Royal Army Service Corps.. Died on Home Service 05/03/1918

Private Frank Ashby - Northumberland Fusiliers. Killed in action 23/04/1917

Private Charles Batta (Batt) - Northumberland Fusilers. Died of wounds 21/03/1918

Corporal James Belton - Alexandra, Princess of Wales Own (Yorkshire Regiment). Killed in action 27/05/1918

Driver Henry John Bryant - Royal Army Service Corps. Died of pneumonia, 17/02/1916

Private Walter Bull - Northumberland Fusiliers. Killed in action 27/05/1918

Serjeant Albert James Burns - Royal Dublin Fusilers. Killed in action 28/09/1917

Private Percy Challinor - Royal Inneskilling Fusiliers - Killed in action 07/06/1917

Private Thomas Cook - Royal Army Service Corps. Died 27/03/1918

Private William Coombe - Royal Army Service Corps. Died 11/05/1918

Private John Thomas Corps - Prince Albert's (Somerset) Light Infantry. Killed in action 27/09/1915. Awarded the Military Medal

Rifleman William Cragg - Royal Irish Rifles. Died 31/03/1918

Lance Corporal James Thomas Davis - Gloucestershire Regiment. Died of wounds 23/05/1915

Private Bert Felham - Royal Army Service Corps. Died of wounds 04/03/1917

Private George William Fife - Royal Inneskilling Fusilers. Killed in action  04/11/1917

Private Leonard Ernest Ford - Remount Depot (Shirehampton) ASC. Died of injuries 23/03/1918

Serjeant William George Fry - Royal Army Service Corps. Killed in action 02/10/1918

Driver Nelson Gainey - Royal Army Service Corps. Died due to enemy action 25/09/1918

Private George William Gill - Northumberland Fusiliers. Died 16/06/1917

Private Joseph Steven Gould - Royal Army Service Corps. Died on Home service 03/08/1916

Private William John Gould - Machine Gun Corps. Killed in action 24/07/1918

Private Thomas Joseph Grady - Royal Army Medical Corps. Died 31/10/1918

Private Harry Harding - Royal Army Service Corps. Died 30/03/1917

Private John William Henley - Northumberland Fusilers. Died 21/10/1918

Private Herbert Higgs - Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). Died 03/03/1917

Private Lewis Henry Howes - Lancashire Fusiliers. Killed in action 14/04/1917

Private Arthur Hurst - Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex Regiment). Killed in action 21/02/1917

Private George Jones - Northumberland Fusiliers. Died 08/04/1918

Private Albert Keeble - Household Cavalry Died  28/10/1918

Private (Rough Rider/Nagsman) Albert Kelham - Royal Army Service Corps. Died 15/02/1918

Private Thomas Kelly - Manchester Regiment. Killed in action 13/05/1917

Private Harry King - Bedfordshire Regiment. Killed in action 07/10/1917

Private Bertie Willie Knock - Household Cavalry. Died of wounds 01/11/1918

Private Wallace Arthur Langley - Lancashire Fusiliers. Killed in action 09/10/1917

Private Harry Vivian Maheu - Royal Army Service Corps. Killed in action 19/02/1915

Acting Lance Corporal James Manders - Royal Army Service Corps. Died 27/05/1916

Private Ernest Marlow - Household Cavalry. Died 28/10/1918

Private Robert Martin - Seaforth Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs, the Duke of Albany's). Died of wounds 13/10/1918

Private Philip Moon - Royal Army Service Corp., Died09/12/1915

Private Walter Murray - Royal Army Service Corps. Died on Home Service 15/03/1916

Private Reginald James Muttram - Household Cavalry. Died of wounds 03/11/1918

Mech Staff Serjeant Francis Geoffrey Pearson - Royal Army Service Corps. Killed in action 06/09/1914

Private William Prior - South Staffordshire Regiment. Killed in action 04/10/1917

Private Samuel Herbert Rodman - Princess Charlotte of Wales (Royal Berkshire Regiment). Killed in action 09/12/1916

Corporal Stephen Rose - Northumberland Fusiliers. Died of wounds 17/09/1918

Private John Sale - Royal Army Service Corps. Died 02/11/1915

Private John Smith - Royal Army Service Corps. Died 06/02/1916

Private John Smith - Northumberland Fusiliers - Died of wounds 14/04/1918

Private Robert Tom Steele - Dorsetshire Regiment. Killed in action 07/07/1916

Private George Stirling - Northumberland Fusiliers. Died 22/10/1917

FAA Serjeant Walter John Stockwell - Royal Army Service Corps. Died on Home Service 15/04/1916

Private John Strong - Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). Killed in action 21/03/1918

Private John Suttie - Dorsetshire Regiment. Killed in action 11/10/1918

Private Percy Tarrant - Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Killed in action 16/08/1917

Lance Bombardier William Taylor - Royal Horse Artillery & Royal Field Artillery. Died of wounds 27/09/1918

Private Stafford Victor Thornell - Household Cavalry. Died of wounds 08/05/1918

Bombardier Charles Edward Watkins - Royal Horse Artillery & Royal Field Artillery. Died of wounds 31/05/1918

Driver Jesse Willoughby -  Royal Army Service Corps. Killed in action 04/03/1917

Private Allen Wood - Princess Carlotte of Wale's (Royal Berkshire Regiment). Killed in action 23/09/1918

Private Arthur Leonard Yeales - Hampshire Regiment.Died of wounds 07/02/1917 

 

Australian Expeditionary Force

Guy Ludlow Hardwick

Son of Charles Hardwick, State Implements Works, Fremantle, Western Australia. Born in Shirehampton

Corporal, 8th Battery, 3rd Field Artillery Brigade

Service number 3059

Served at Gallipoli & Egypt, he returned to Australia, and remained in Western Australia until his death in 1975 

Frederick Sidney Hopkins

Born 5th July 1888 in Shirehampton the son of Inspector of Police Arthur W and Annie Hopkins, husband to Annie Catherine Hopkins, enlisted Perth WA, 5 March 1916,  sailed for France from Fremantle, 1 June 1916

Sapper, Electrical and Mechanical Mining and Boring Company 

Service number 4357

Served with various tunnelling companies on the Western Front until he finally returned to Australia, 25 June 1919. Died in Austrlia 2 July 1985

Abraham Fifoot

Born in Bristol, brother of Sarah Pearson of Shirehampton. Enlisted in Claremont, Tasmania.

Gunner, 3rd Field Artillery Brigade

Service number 5378

Discharged to England 27th August 1917 on the death of his wife so he could return home to take care of his 2 children

New Zealand  Expeditionary Force

Walter Richard Parfitt

Son of Mrs. Mapston (formerly Parfitt), of 103, Bradley Crescent, Shirehampton.

Private, Auckland Regiment

Service number 36993

Age 37

Died of pneumonia, 21 February 1919

Buried Shirehampton Cemetary

52 MT Tractor Depot, Avonmouth

The ASC Depot Company, 52 MT Company, in Aldershot had incorporated a caterpillar section and was moved to Avonmouth in early 1915 to become the ASC Tractor Depot. The Holts were imported from the USA through Avonmouth and from here the ASC provided gun-tractors and men. From April 1915, 6, 8 and 9-inch howitzers were drawn by Holts. Holt drivers were also supplied to help develop the first tanks at Elvedon and to provide driver training and workshop support from 1916.

Avonmouth Mustard Gas Factory

The Avonmouth works near Bristol had been established during the First World War to manufacture poisonous gas but had not been completed before the end of hostilities, and in peacetime they were taken over by the National Smelting Company who commenced zinc smelting and the production of sulphuric acid. Subsequently controlled by the Imperial Smelting Corporation and the Consolidated Zinc Corporation, the undertaking experienced continuous growth throughout the mid-twentieth century, including a programme of modernisation and expansion launched in 1965 in collaboration with Imperial Chemical Industries and Fisons.

A little known fact was that Avonmouth became the centre of the British chemical warfare manufacturing during 1917. The plant there made 20 tons of dichlorethyl sulphide - mustard gas - a day. In December 1918, the plant Medical Officer reported that in the six months it was operational, there were 1,400 illnesses reported by its 1,100 workers - all attributable to their work. There were 160 accidents and over 1,000 burns. Three people died because of the accidents and another four died as a result of their illnesses. These included blisters, gastritis, bronchopneumonia, mental problems and problems with eyesight. There were thirty resident patients in the factory hospital tended by a doctor and eight nurses. The gas produced by the plant didn't arrive in France until September 1918, two months before the Armistice.

In December 1918. the plant Medical Officer reports that in the six months it has been operational, there are 1,400 illnesses reported by its 1,900 workers — all attributable to their work. There are 160 accidents and over 1,000 burns.Three people die in accidents and another four die as a result of their illnesses. There are 30 resident patients in the factory hospital tended by a doctor and eight nurses. The gas produced at the Avonmouth plant didn’t arrive in France until September 1918, two months before the Armistice.

The recent chemical spill at the Alcock & Bright factory at Avonmouth, Bristol sent a huge dense, black cloud into the air, and the wind took it off to the Forest of Dean. People were told not to go outdoors and windows were shut for a period. Not that this makes any real difference to terms of health. The two substances which leaked from the factory were in separation not too deadly, but combined they make Phosgene. This is better known as Mustard Gas and was used during World War One to kill people.

Mustard gas was a vile substance and manufacturing it was difficult and dangerous. The French were not able to begin full production of it until June 1918. The British built a large plant at Avonmouth to manufacture mustard gas. The gas would cost workers at the Avonmouth plant three deaths, a thousand burns, and endless illnesses, some of which would plague their victims all their lives

 

 

World War Two

 

From previous sections within this book it can be seen that numerous British forces were stationed in & around Shirehampton, most were at Shirehampton Camp, in the vicinity of Portway School. Shirehampton Camp (code named Teil by The Luftwaffe) housed units of Royal Ordnance Corps, Royal Artillery, Royal Army Medical Corps & Royal Corps of Signals. These units along, with RAF personnel based at Twyford House, manned the Anti Aircraft guns, Searchlights, Decoy Sites, Mobile Smoke Generators and Balloon Barrage units (927 & 928 Balloon Squadron, 455 Bty, 8 AA Div, 46th AA Brigade 76th (Gloucestershire) HAA Regiment RA (TA) & 68th (1st Rifle Bn. The Momnouthshire Regt.) Searchlight Regiment), that were around Shirehampton, Avonmouth & Portbury.

                                                However in addition to these British units from 1943 American units began to arrive in The West Country & one of these, The 517th Port Battalion, Transportation Corps, set up camp on Shirehampton Golf Course, causing the course to become only 9 holes for the duration. The 517th Port Battalion were activated on 4th June 1943 (A, B, C & D Companies) and they assisted at Avonmouth, Portbury & Bristol Docks in bringing the US 1st Army units, under General Omar Bradley, into the South West. HQ and HQ Detachment, 228th, and 229th port companies left Maghull via rail for Shirehampton, Seamills Camp on April 28, 1944. (519th Port Battalion was also based on Seamills). They left Seamills on May 16, 1944 and arrived at the invasion marshalling area at Harpton Court, New Radnor, Radnorshire on May 19, 1944.

                 It may be of interest to state that the US practise of the segrigation of White and Negro soldiers still took place even in Shirehampton, the Negro soldiers being billeted in tents on Shirehampton Golf Course whilst the White soldiers were in Nissen huts in the grounds of Kingsweston House.

In 1944 the 44th & 168th Engineering Combat Battalions & The 761st Tank Battalion passed through the docks en route to camps in Dorset prior to being sent to Normandy. Also in Avonmouth was the US Army, 6th Field Hospital (400 beds).  

                                         In late 1944 the 517th Port Battalion became the 797th, 798th, 799th, & 800th Port Battalions and were sent overseas to Antwerp, Belgium, the camp then being used to house Italian Prisoners of War.

                                         At some point during World War 2 United Staes then Free Polish Forces were housed in Nissan huts in woodland near Kinsweston House, the remains of these huts (foundations & road) can still be seen in the woods between Kinsweston House and Shirehampton Rd/Park Hilluring 

                                      During the winter of 1944 No10 NCC (Non Combatant Company) was stationed at Shirehampton West Camp. Their duties were posibly to clear the recently used accomodation around the Shirehampton area or perhaps they were attached to the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) in the area, as there is evidence that over  Christmas 1944 they preformed the pantomime 'Cinderella', along with RAMC personnel, at Southmead hospital 

                                          There is rumour that a group of servicemen were killed on their way back to barracks whilst they were on Park Row/Shirehampton Road, I can find no British casualties which can be linked to this incident so it may be safe to say that if it happened that the casualties were probably American. There a three possible dates as to when this could have happened they are:

 

27/28 March 1944

23/24 April 1944

14/15 May 1944

 

Of these dates the night of the 14th/15th May seems most likely as in the Shirehampton area were German Luftwaffe ME 410 Night Fighters which were on patrol over Bristol airfields in order to suppress British Night Fighters operating from this area. It is possible that one of these German aircraft strafed the men whilst they were en route to their billets, as previously stated this is pure speculation and it would assist if anyone reading this can come forward with new information.  

 

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