Author Archives: painetvin

William Adams (1888-1960), relative of Aly White

William AdamsWilliam George Adams (seen on the right in the photo), my great-grandfather, was born at Brockwell Farm on the Chequers estate near Ellesborough, Buckinghamshire, in 1888. His father, George, apprenticed his young son to a butcher, a profession that William hated as he loved animals and could not stand the abattoir. William did not last very long in butchery, and ran away around the age of 16 to join the Buckinghamshire Yeomanry, where he worked for a few years before he was discovered by a boy he knew from back home, who had also joined up. William’s father pulled him out of the Buckinghamshire Yeomanry at vast cost. Between then and the beginning of the war in 1914, William worked on the farm with horses. Maids and Harper, a Croydon firm, were impressed with his handling of the horses and offered him a job in their timber yard. So he moved to Croydon, where he met May, my great-grandmother.

William married Dorothy May Scutt in October 1914, not long after the outbreak of the war. Two daughters followed, Edith May (b. 1915) and Doreen Margaret (b. 1916), whose early childhood William would miss as a result of the war. He joined the 13th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment in August 1914, and was sent to France not long after signing up. He was shot in the arm and gassed quite early in the war, and spent time in hospital. At the time of my grandmother Doreen’s birth in December 1916, William was posted as missing. May, my great-grandmother, received a telegram saying he was dead. But fortunately this was a mistake and he did eventually return home. On one of his leaves, the first thing he said to her was “Don’t touch me, May, I am lousy!” He didn’t even go into the house until he had stripped down and washed himself off.

William was a first-class shot and signalman, for which he was paid an extra five shillings per week. He was encouraged to go for promotion by his commanding officer, but refused, for he was a gentle man who did not wish to be responsible for other people. After his refusal, he was sent to Cologne in Germany, with the Army of Occupation. He did not return home until September 1919. My grandmother was almost three years old and did not know her father. She cried when he came home and it took her a few days to approach him.

After the war, William enjoyed family life, gardening and going for long walks in the country. He was a country man who knew about wild flora and fauna. He became quite claustrophobic after the war and didn’t like to be enclosed, especially in the cinema. Presumably this was due to his early gassing experience, which left a lasting impression on him. William died in January 1960 in Croydon.

William George Adams b. 1888 Ellesborough, Buckinghamshire, d. 1960 Croydon, Surrey, Private 13th Battalion Middlesex Regiment, is the relative of Aly White, Administrator, School of Histories, Languages and Cultures


William McGarry (1883-1948) and William Shaw (1894-1941), relatives of John McGarry

William McGarry and William Shaw, my grandfathers, both lived around the London Road and Everton area of Liverpool around 1900. Both served in the King’s (Liverpool) Regiment in World War I. This is their story.

William John McGarry, my paternal grandfather, was born in Ireland in 1883 and came to Liverpool at a young age with his father, John McGarry, who was a docker.  William enlisted in Liverpool on 2 January 1915 as number 3276 in ‘C’ Company, 2/5 King’s (Liverpool) Regiment, and was renumbered as 201076 in early 1917. The address he gave at the time of his enlistment was 28 Date Street, Seaforth. He gave his occupation as a shipper, and is listed as height 5′ 6″, weight 140lbs with good physical development, religion Roman Catholic. Between 1915 and late 1916, whilst stationed at Canterbury and Woking, he was punished a number of times, mainly by being confined to barracks for overstaying his leave pass. He was posted to France on 13 February 1917 (sailing from Folkestone to Boulogne), and returned for a Corps William McGarryLewis Gun Course four months later in June that year. The photograph (left) shows the soldiers on that course. My grandfather is seated far right. The expression on these faces says it all.

William rejoined the Battalion in July 1917 and was posted to 2/7 King’s (Liverpool) Regiment on 25 January 1918. According to his record and the Battalion War Diary I have managed to obtain, he was wounded and admitted to 3 Australian General Hospital on 3 September 1918. The Diary details the movements of the battalion and all the names of the trenches in which he was positioned. By all accounts, he was a character of strong will, and was pleased to serve his country alongside twenty other loyal employees and willing volunteers at the Diamond Match Company, Litherland. The employer guaranteed all these men employment on their return after the war. William survived physically, and went back to his old employment when disembodied1 on 9 March 1919. Sadly, in 1941, the factory where he worked was bombed, and he moved to the parent building in Garston, which still stands today.

It was this event, and the noise of the Liverpool Blitz in 1941, which caused a severe mental breakdown. According to my father, this manifested itself when William would shout out while walking the streets. It is quite easy to imagine how the events of World War II could affect a World-War-I trench veteran. Perhaps we should bear in mind his anxiety with three sons all serving at that time: one was James (my father), a Royal Marine and a D-Day survivor, aged 19; then there was George, who was based with the RAF in Singapore; and finally John, who was with the Merchant Navy. The three sons all lived into their mid-80s, but my grandfather died aged 66 in 1948. He was survived by nine children in total, and was grandfather to a famous Liverpool son, my cousin and poet Roger McGough.

William ShawWilliam Shaw, my maternal grandfather, was born in 1894. According to family birth certificates, he was a private in the King’s (Liverpool) Regiment in March 1916, and, by April 1917, by the time my mother (pictured standing in the photograph, right) was born, a Lance Corporal (number 11571) in the 1st Battalion.  I have no other war details of him, as I can’t seem to access his war records. Can anyone advise? I would be most grateful. I did find some information on his medals (he was awarded the Victory, British and Star medals), but I am not sure that can tell me much.

Like my other grandfather, William Shaw survived but suffered tragedy as a latent consequence of the Great War. According to my family, he took his own life during the Liverpool Blitz in 1941, when he heard the news of the death of his son John (Jack), who is seated in the photograph (above right). John was serving in the North Africa campaign driving a truck which was hit.

1. ‘Disembodied’ is a specific Army term for the demobilization of soldiers in certain types of service, notably the Territorial Forces.

William John McGarry (1883-1948) and William Shaw (1894-1941) are the relatives of Dr John McGarry, Lecturer in Parasitology, University of Liverpool.

If you can help John to find details of William Shaw’s war service, you can contact him at

Jesse Jestico Marven (1889-1956), relative of Lyn Marven

Jesse Jestico Marven, my great-grandfather, was born in Plaistow, Essex in 1889. He was working as a dock labourer in March 1909 when he signed up with the Royal Navy for five years, and served initially as a stoker. According to his record, he served on various vessels (Essex, Hindustan, Seahorse, Actaeon, Hermes) and shore bases (Victory II, Nelson, Pembroke), working his way up to Petty Officer (4th class) by 1916. From March 1913 he was paid an additional 4/- per week for ‘air service’ and was transferred to the Royal Fleet Reserve in Portsmouth, home to the newly formed Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). Jesse was part of Drake Battalion and went to Belgium at the start of the First World War, but was transferred to the Central Air Office at the end of 1914. He was issued with the 1914 star. Jesse continued in the air service until the end of the war and was transferred to the RAF when the RNAS and Jesse Marven (480x640)RFC were merged in April 1918. In the photo (left), he is wearing naval uniform with a Royal Flying Corps cap, so presumably it dates from just after the merging of the two air services. He continued in service with the RAF until 1921.

Jesse married Ann Kinnear Houison (born in Leven, Fife, 1889) in Edinburgh on 4 February 1914. On the basis of the dates of his air service and his marriage, it must be assumed he spent time prior to 1914 at Leuchars, which the RFC used as a Naval Fleet Flying School. He may also have spent time on HMS Jackdaw at Crail, which was also used for RFC training, or the Turnberry aerodrome in Ayrshire.

Jesse and Ann continued to live in Leven, and had four sons and one daughter (two of whom survived into the twenty-first century), including my grandad, also called Jesse, born in 1917. Jesse Jestico died in 1956 at the age of 67. My dad, one of nine grandchildren, remembers him well, and has passed on several (sadly unverified!) tales about him. Family lore has it that Jesse Jestico learned to fly in France, that he landed his aeroplane on Leven golf course, and that he was the last person officially allowed to fly his aeroplane under the central arch of the Forth (rail) Bridge.

Jesse Jestico Marven, b. 1889, Plaistow, Essex, d. 1956, Leven, Fife, relative of Dr Lyn Marven, Lecturer in German, CLAS.

Bartus Baggott (1893-1966), relative of Eve Rosenhaft

Bartus Baggott, my mother’s uncle, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, in 1893. He studied medicine at the University of Maryland, graduating in 1916.  When the United States entered the war in April 1917, Bartus joined the Army Medical Corps as a Lieutenant.  He received military training in Georgia and was introduced to the business of battlefield medicine at the Army Medical School in Washington DC. This probably included learning about poison gas, transport of the sick and wounded, and care for conditions like trench fever and trench foot.

By the time the ‘Yanks’ were ready to go ‘over there’, the European powers had been fighting for nearly three years, and medical professionals were in short supply.  Bartus was one of some 1600 medical officers who were assigned to take over and staff British front hospitals in the summer of 1917. In July he arrived in London for a wimereux_archperiod familiarising himself with British medical procedures. Between August 1917 and the end of the war he served in France at 32 Stationary Hospital at Wimereux (see photo left, courtesy of IWM) and 12 Stationary Hospital at St Pol.  He was also attached to the 1/2 London Field Ambulance – not a motor vehicle but a front line mobile medical unit.  Army medical staff were not safe behind the lines; each medical officer was required to do a rotation at a Casualty Clearing Station near the front, and some were fully engaged on the battlefield, treating casualties in the trenches and in dugouts. Bartus saw action at Cambrai in the winter of 1917 and on the Somme in the spring and summer of 1918. In the First World War, 65 American medical officers died of wounds and a further 102 of accidents and disease. But Bartus survived. He was recommended by the Chief Surgeon for a British War Medal and ended his tour of duty as a Captain, stationed in Angers until May 1919.

Bartus returned to Baltimore to make a career as a GP in private practice. When he died in 1966, one of the things he left behind was an unusual kind of war diary. In a copy of the American edition of Storm of Steel, the classic war memoir by the German writer Ernst Jünger, Bartus had pencilled notes in which he commented on the places and events from his own perspective on the other side of the lines.

Bartus Baggott, b. Baltimore, USA, 1893, d. Baltimore, USA, 1966, Captain, US Army Medical Corps, is the relative of Eve Rosenhaft, Professor of German Historical Studies, CLAS.

Guillaume Mennens (1875-1948) and Gerard Mennens (1902-1974), relatives of Godfried Croenen

Croenen GGF and GGUGuillaume Mennens (born 1875) was my maternal great-grandfather (my mother’s grandfather). Before the First World War, he and his elder brother Henri were both prison officers in the town of Rekem, not far from the border with the Netherlands, where the prison was apparently located in the buildings of the local château. The brothers are shown in their uniforms in the photograph (left), with Guillaume on the right.

The brothers remained prison officers during the war and by 1914 they had been transferred to the prison at Ypres, near the border with France (where the photo was taken). Under threat of war operations, the whole prison population, including inmates and guards, as well as the guards’ families, were evacuated to France (possibly in 1914?), where they ended up in the Loire valley. As a result, my granddad (Gerard Mennens, 1902-1974, son of Guillaume) spent most of the war years in Angers, where he went to school, together with the children of other Flemish refugees. Croenen GGFIn the second photograph, right, Gerard is shown with some of his friends on the school’s football team (he is the handsome lad on the right, at the age of about 16). The Flemish boys kept using their Dutch vernacular amongst themselves, which to French ears sounded very ‘Germanic’, with the result that they were often called ‘boches’ by their French peers!

After the war, Gerard finished his secondary education (in his native Dutch language) in 1920, back in Belgium, now in the town of Hasselt, in the province of Limburg, from where the Mennens family originated. After his university studies he followed in his father’s footsteps and went on to have a successful career in the prison service. He started as a prison officer in Oudenaarde but ended his career as the director of the high-security prison in Leuven, where some of Belgium’s most notorious prisoners were being kept. Before coming to Leuven, he had been director of a number of other prisons, where he and his family lived in the director’s house, which was normally located on the prison’s precinct. This explains why my mother grew up behind prison walls and why I, as a baby, regularly went to prison…

Guillaume Mennens (1875-1948), Prison Service, Belgium, and Gerard Mennens (1902-74), Prison Service, Belgium, are the relatives of Dr Godfried Croenen, Reader in French Historical Studies, CLAS.

Tom Garmory (1893-1940), relative of Kay Chadwick

Tom GarmoryThomas McGuffog Garmory, known as Tom, was born in Kirkcudbright, Scotland in 1893. He was the fourth of seven children, five boys and two girls. He is my first cousin, twice removed, and part of my extensive Scottish family. On leaving school, Tom served an apprenticeship with a local grocer, Mr Dalziel. In 1915, at the age of 22, he left his job and enlisted on 2 June as a Private in the 17th Highland Light Infantry. He was sent to France in November 1915, and was wounded at the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916. Once recovered, he transferred to the 8th York & Lancaster Regiment and returned to the battlefields in France, first as a Corporal, before being promoted to Sergeant. By 1918, he was in Italy, where he fought in the Battle of Asiago on 15-16 June 1918. His actions here earned him the Distinguished Conduct Medal for Conspicuous Gallantry, as his citation explains:

“For a long period during operations he was responsible for guiding ration parties to their destination each night, and in spite of very heavy hostile shelling, he succeeded in getting all rations and stores through. On many occasions he went out alone to find lost parties, and always showed a complete disregard of personal danger.”

Tom survived the war, and returned home to Scotland, where he married Helen Slavin in 1923. They had seven children, four of whom are still living (as of November 2013). But Tom himself died young at the age of 47 in 1940. I do not know if his death was related to war injury or trauma. But it is a possibility, since the psychological and physical impact of the First World War stretched far beyond the end of the fighting in 1918. The photograph is a little faded, but, even so, I can clearly see my mother in him.

Tom Garmory, b. Kirkcudbright, 1893, d. Dalziel, 1940, Sergeant, 8th York & Lancaster Regiment, is the relative of Dr Kay Chadwick, Reader in French Historical Studies, CLAS.