Clarence Cox – Sherwood Forester Immortalised in Gloucestershire Glass

Cox

 

On a slope overlooking the city of Gloucester stands the village of Maisemore.

Outside the parish church of St. Giles stands a Celtic Cross war memorial and inside the church there is a lovingly produced roll of honour which features the Belgian flag in the centre alongside the Union Flag and Royal Standard with the flags of France, Russia, Japan and Serbia in the corners.  In a way, this demonstrates the centrality of the notion of Britain coming to the aid of `little Belgium’ as a reason for war.

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However my eye was drawn to a lovely east window, at the bottom of which is the inscription:IMG_0121

To the memory of Lieutenant C.F.S. Cox and his gallant comrades of Maisemore who fell in the Great War 1914-1918

Clarence Cox himself is shown as St. George, with his face clearly visible in the window.

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The reredos screen with two striking carvings was also installed in his memory.

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Fortunately the kind gentleman who entered the church to ask if we had any questions directed me towards a comprehensive booklet, Maisemore Men: Lest We Forget, written by Robin Stayt in 2003 from which some of the information below is taken.

Clarence Frederick Stuart Cox was born in Nottingham in 1896, the son of Arthur Cox and Abeth Julia Cave, the former already a widower.   In 1910 Arthur died and Abeth remarried John Joseph Cridlan, the owner of the Maisemore Park estate in Gloucestershire.  He was a famous agriculturalist, specialising in the breeding of Aberdeen Angus Cattle.

Clarence attended Trent College in Nottingham and spent holidays at Maisemore.  In 1914 he was accepted by the University of Sheffield to study a non-degree course.  However the war interrupted his studies and he volunteered to join the Sherwoord Foresters in Febraury 1915.  He spent some time with reserve and training units before transferring to the 10th Battalion and arrived at the Somme in 1916, shortly after the initial British attack of 1st July.  The Battalion was on front line duty at Delville Wood but spent some time at Canroy Camp away from the front line.

Clarence and a fellow officer, Captain Normal Knight, took the opportunity of a break between duties to teach the French children at a nearby school.  Knight wrote home that Clarence was hilarious and the children, `grew quite fond of us and were sorry we had to return to the Line.’ (1)  However this was a brief respite and the battalion was soon in action at the Battle of Arras in April 1917.

In September 1917 a party of 38 men, including Clarence, comprised a raiding party on enemy lines.  They crossed no-man’s land and inflicted many casualties on the enemy, with one prisoner being taken.  He happened to be the enemy’s military postman and his postbag contained valuable intelligence information.  For this action Clarence, along with two others, was awarded the Military Cross.  The Gloucestershire Chronicle ran a detailed report on 19 January 1918: (2)

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In late October the battalion moved to support lines in the Wijdendrift sector, where `C’ company used a disused pill-box for its HQ.  However on 29 October it was heavily shelled, and a direct hit killed three men instantly, including Clarence.

Two of the privates who served with Clarence wrote to Abeth about her son:

He was always so good to us al were ever (sic) we was in the trenches or out and that is the sort of man for us out here. (2)

Another young man of talent and character cut down before he had a chance to blossom into adulthood.

The theme of Christianity in the First World War is explored in more depth in my book  Fight the Good Fight: Voices of Faith from the First World War

Fight the Good Fight

 

(1) Robin Stayt, Maisemore Men: Lest We Forget (2003), p.22
(2) Gloucestershire Chronicle, 19 January 1918
(2) Stayt, p.23

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The Penruddockes of Compton Chamberlayne

 

The title of this post could not be more evocative of the west country, and it was in a small Wiltshire village (population at last census: 112) that we discovered two fascinating First World War Stories.  The first was found in the village church, a building which could only be reached by going through a latched gate down a path by the side of a large house.

Compton Chamberlayne

In deepest England

The church was relatively plain inside, but what was striking was the inclusion of the unusual name of Penruddocke twice on the war memorial.

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Dawn then saw a large inscription in the chancel listing many Penruddockes stretching back to the reign of Elizabeth I.

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One of the ancestors of the two men on the war memorial had himself been a victim of war, this time back in 1655 after an unsuccessful bid to overthrow Oliver Cromwell and the Commonwealth.  Colonel John Penruddocke was executed in May 1655 after raising the Royal Standard in Salisbury but going on to be defeated at South Molton in Devon.

Other members of the family had served as MPs, but it fell to two young men in the First World War to pay the price for the family’s local eminence.  The first to die is commemorated by a brass plaque.

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The inscription reads:-

In ever loving memory of
Thomas Penruddocke
2nd Lt, 7th Battn. Wiltshire Regt
third and dearly loved son of
Charles & Annie E. Penruddocke
Born Sept 2nd 1897
Killed in Action in the Battle of
Lake Doiran Salonika
April 24th 1917, aged 19 years

I have fought a good fight
I have finished my course
I have kept the Faith
                   II Tim.IV.7

Thomas Penruddocke was born on 2 September 1897 at Bratton, Wincanton, Somerset.He was the youngest of six children born to Charles Penruddocke & Annie Elizabeth Dickinson Carew Bamford Speke.

The 1911 census records Thomas Penruddocke as a 13 year old school boy, born Somerset Bratton, as one of 11 boarders at Clifton College, 12 The Avenue, Bristol.  His medal index card shows he first entered a theatre of war on 18 April 1916.

An Obituary for Thomas Penruddocke appeared in The Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette 12 May 1917:-

SECOND LIEUTENANT THOMAS PENRUDDOCKE

Wiltshire Regiment, killed on April 25, aged 19, was the youngest son of Mr and Mrs Penruddocke, of Compton Park, Salisbury. Born in 1907*, he was educated at Clifton College, and on leaving school entered the Bristol University O.T.C., obtaining his commission in November 1915. Proceeding to the front in the following spring, he was wounded in July, 1916, and invalided home but recovered sufficiently to be able to rejoin in November of the same year. At school Mr Penruddocke was a fine runner, and won several school races. He was one of three brothers serving with the Forces.

 

 

The following story appeared in the Frankston & Somerville Standard (Victoria, Australia) Wednesday 19 December, 1923

 

AN ALLEGORY of EMPIRE

The Penruddocke Burial Ground from 1598 to 1917

By W.R.M.

Five years ago to-day, an Australian soldier, strolling from the crowded camp, at Fovant, on Salisbury Plain, came, in a quiet hour and in a quiet church, upon an allegory of Empire.

Fovant Camp, like Hurdcott, form one of a chain stretching along the Salisbury Plain. Three roads converge at the foot of Fovant Railway Station, a short line, used almost exclusively for military purposes. One leads to Dinton, the other across a watercress bordered brook to Salisbury and the third past the A.I.F. headquarters to Compton Chamberlayne, past where the old Roman milestone, “To Sarum XI” still stands sentinel.

“After the parade was dismissed, I determined to visit the church, which teems with old-time memories. Fifteen minutes’ walk along a wood track brought me to the usual well-kept road, bordered by a high wall and just visible through the trees was the church. Interrogating a sturdy little lass, with the first season’s violets freshly gathered in her hand, I asked if I might enter.

“Everbuddy goes in; the lock bruk,” she replied enigmatically.

Without further question the broken lock admitted me to Saint Catherine’s* Church burial ground, Compton-Chamberlayne.

At the rear of the church is the castle. Picturesquely situated, with a lake in front, the remains of a moat running round one side and the burial ground almost forming part of the ground itself, it was built in the fifteenth century, probably a century later than the church. I entered.

Replacing fresh wax candles on the altar and pulpit was a lady in deep mourning and with a warm smile of welcome she quickly dispelled any fears I might have had of intruding.

It was a gloomy Saturday afternoon and the snow was falling lightly and the appearance of the little church, with its burnished brasses and the white-haired lady in deep mourning, trimming the tapers in their brass holders, filled me with a feeling that had come only once before – in Westminster Abbey.

Obeying a welcoming smile, she led me to a tablet affixed to the wall saying, “This is a list of the Penruddocke family.” Inscribed on the tablet were 32 names, the first being Edward Penruddocke, buried in August, 1598; the last on the tablet being Flora Henrietta Penruddocke, November 7, 1902. Half-way down the list of names I caught sight of “John Penruddcoke, beheaded at Exeter in May, 1655 and buried here three days later.” Glancing around my eye fell upon a brass tablet set apart from the rest, affixed to the opposite wall. It bore the words:-

Sacred to the Memory

Of

THOMAS PENRUDDOCKE (Lieut.)

Who Lost His Life At Lake Doiran,

SALONIKA,

On

April 24, 1917

“Said the soft sad voice of the lady over my shoulder, “That was my youngest son.”

 

“I tried to express the usual commonplace sympathy, recovered my hat and tip-toed out of the warmly-lighted little church into the dusk and now the fast-falling snow, past rows of thatched cottages with their cosy interiors, past the King’s Elm hostelry, where the sign “sold out” was exhibited in the window and on to the cheerless hut, where some Australian soldiers from France were seated round the stove, singing a lively chorus to the accompaniment of a violin, played by a lad scarcely more than 19 years of age; and then crept into damp blankets, to dream of Edward Penruddocke, beheaded in 1598 and of the sweet, sad smile of the lady in mourning who lost her youngest son at Salonika in 1917.

 

Pte George Herbert Rose, who is also listed on the church war memorial served with the 7th Battalion Wiltshire Regiment and died on 24th April, 1917, the day before Second Lieutenant Thomas Penruddocke.

The second plaque is to another son who only missed surviving the war by just over a month:-

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IN EVER LOVING MEMORY OF CHARLES PENRUDDOCKE
LIEUTENANT 7TH BATTALION THE WILTSHIRE REGIMENT
THE DEARLY LOVED ELDEST SON OF CHARLES AND ANNIE
E. PENRUDDOCKE KILLED IN ACTION AT GOUY NEAR
LE CATELET IN FRANCE (HINDENBURG LINE) ON
OCTOBER 4TH 1918 AGED 25 YEARS
“Thy will be done”

Charles Penruddocke

Charles was born on 16 January 1893 and attended Elveden preparatory school, Clifton.  He attended Sherborne School between 1907 and 1910 (a contemporary of L.J. Hooper about whom you can read on another blog post).  He was a keen runner and gained his house colours.  He had a commission in the Territorial Army which he had relinquished before the war and his profession was Solicitor.  He was posted to the Wiltshire Regiment and spent three winters on the Salonika Front.  He proceeded to France in the summer of 1918.  He was mentioned in despatches and awarded the Military Cross.

His Colonel wrote, `I need hardly say how much I feel his loss, as he was one of the best and bravest fellows I know.  He was doing extraordinarily good work at the time, and was invaluable to me and the brigade.’

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A tragic postscript to this already sad tale of loss is that a third brother, George, also served in the war and was awarded the Military Cross for his gallant actions at the Somme, leading an attack on an enemy trench and killing six Germans.  He was placed on the retirement list in 1918 due to wounds.  However in 1946, whilst aged only 52, he was found dead from `a gunshot wound inflicted through the mouth to the head while balance of mind temporarily disturbed He had been suffering from lack of sleep..’ He was found by his sister, Flora, and his mother on their return from church.

Annie Penruddocke had lost two of her sons in the First World War and lived to see the third take his own life after the end of the Second World War. What a sad tale, showing that wealth and family eminence is no insurance against heartache.

If you would like to know more about how the Christian faith and twentieth century warfare intertwined, my two books, Fight the Good Fight: Voices of Faith from the First World War and Fight the Good Fight: Voices of Faith from the Second World War can be ordered directly for £18 each including p+p or £30 for the pair. I can personally dedicate and sign them to make a lovely gift. Contact me at johnbroom@aol.com

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I acknowledge Cathy Sedgwick at the Wiltshire OPC as the source of the above newspaper report from Australia and the information about George Penruddocke.

Huntriss Memorial Window, Mattersey, Nottinghamshire

One memorial window which takes the breath away is situated on the south wall of the parish church in Mattersey, Nottinghamshire. The church is one of the majority which thankfully is open during daylight hours, for people to appreciate the serenity and spirituality of the space.

The window commemorates the deaths of three brothers who spent some of their youth in the quiet village. They were the sons of William and Charlotte Huntriss. William had married Charlotte in 1883 and was a successful farmer who by 1911 was living at Mattersey Hall. He died in 1912 before the war broke out. Charlotte was thirteen years younger than her husband and would live until 1939.

The quote above the figures is from Revelation 2:10 and reads:
BE THOU FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH AND I WILL GIVE THEE A CROWN OF LIFE
Underneath the tableau is the inscription:
IN EVER LOVING MEMORY OF LIEUT WILLIAM HUNTRISS, 3RD DUKE OF WELLINGTON’S WEST RIDING REGIMENT (ATTACHED TO GOLD COAST REGIMENT) BORN DECEMBER 16TH 1886; DIED OCTOBER 23RD 1918 AT COOMASSIE, AFRICA.
CAPT. HAROLD EDWARDS HUNTRISS, 1ST BATTALION BEDFORDSHIRE REGIMENT, BORN MAY 23RD 1890; DIED OF WOUNDS AT FESTUBERT, FRANCE MAY 17TH 1915.
CAPT. CYRIL JOHN HUNTRISS, 1ST BATTALION EAST YORKSHIRE REGIMENT. BORN JANUARY 23RD 1893, KILLED AT FRICOURT, FRANCE JULY 1ST 1916.

Cyril was born in Scarborough and educated at Uppingham School. He had served in France since January 1915. Cyril had won the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry on 9th August 1915. At Hooge, Belgium, he had, `led four bombing parties up to the assault on the enemy’s position with the greatest coolness and daring.’ He had also been mentioned in despatches by Field Marshal Sir John French in January 1916. He was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916, along with nearly 20,000 other British troops. His body was never found and he is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial.

Harold was born in East Markham, Nottinghamshire. The following information comes from the website http://www.bedfordregiment.org.uk :

Captain Harold Edward HUNTRISS
Killed in action 17th May 1915, aged 24
Harold was born 23rd May 1890 in East Markham, Nottinghamshire, the son of William Huntriss, J.P. and Charlotte Elizabeth Huntriss. He was educated at Uppingham between 1904 and 1908, after which Harold applied to the Sandhurst Royal Military Academy on 29 September 1908, giving his address as Mattersey Hall, Bawtry, Yorkshire.
He was promoted to Lieutenant on 3rd May 1911 and arrived with the 2nd Battalion in France 6th October 1914. Lieutenant Huntriss was hit by shrapnel in the left thigh on the 29th or 30th October, during intense fighting east of Ypres and returned to England to recover after an operation.
Harold returned to the 2nd Battalion in April or May 1915 but was killed at the head of his Company as they advanced to the second German trench line, Major MacKenzie and Lieutenant Hutton-Williams being killed close by. All three were buried together despite the difficulties their men had recovering their bodies after the battle.
At the time of his death, he lived at Harlsen House, Belvedere Road in Scarborough, his widowed mother being his next of kin (resident at 116 Wheelwright Road, Gravelly Hill in Birmingham). There also seems to be a link to Huntriss and Huntriss Solicitors in Halifax who handled his mother’s affairs, his brother William seemingly being a partner within the firm.
Lieutenant Huntriss is buried in the Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy, 7km east of Bethune..

William was born in Scarborough and died on the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and died in 1918, a few weeks before the end of the war.

Their names also appear along with the others from the village who made the ultimate sacrifice on the marble tablet next to the window.
One final twist to the tale was that when I came to sign the church visitors’ book, the last entry was for a Brian Huntriss from Leicestershire. I wonder if he is a relation.
John Broom is the author of two critically acclaimed books; Fight the Good Fight, Voices of Faith from the First World War , and Fight the Good Fight: Voices of Faith from the Second World War published by Pen and Sword. For a personally signed copy please email johnbroom@aol.com. The cost is £16 plus £4 p+p
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