Violet Russell’s Autograph Book: Part 2

autograph book (5)

The previous article detailed the research into Violet Russell, a VAD nurse at the Red Cross Hospital, The Close, Winchester and her autograph book recording the names and sentiments of WW1 soldiers treated at the hospital.  We have started to research the names of those who have signed Violet’s autograph book. In the table below, the entries in the autograph book are transcribed in full in the order in which they appear in the book. These original entries are in black and any additional information has been added in blue. Service and military records for British soldiers were checked on Ancestry, Fold 3 and Find My Past. The service records for the Canadian and Australian soldiers can be found on free-to-view websites here Personnel Records of the First World War – Library and Archives Canada ( and here Name search | RecordSearch | National Archives of Australia (


This research has so far concentrated on the soldiers with service numbers and as these are more easily identified in the various on-line records. There is much more research to do on the other names, but we hope that this article will be of interest and will, perhaps, lead to useful links with other researchers. It is worth noting that many were wounded in the late summer of 1917 – most likely in the 3rd Battle of Ypres – and in the German advance of early 1918.

The autograph book also reminds us of the service of those who served in the First World War and survived it. The men who signed this book were all in hospital for medical treatment for illnesses and wounds received in battle. Some were wounded several times, some were discharged early from military service because of their wounds, two lost limbs, a couple are noted as suffering from ‘shell-shock’ (described as Neurasthenia in the records we have consulted), and some have illnesses brought on by exposure and living in crowded conditions outdoors or under canvas. Most of the wounds are described as gun-shot wounds or shrapnel wounds, and there are references to gas shells.

The table below gives the summary details on each soldier. Then follows a little more information on some of the men. The British soldiers are covered first, then the Australian and Canadian soldiers.

Name Rank Regiment Number Date Message/notes
G Kirby Private 2nd Hants Regt Came to the Close 5 March 1917; entry written 12 August 1917 Thanking Nurse Russell for her kindness to me during my short stay at the Close

Quite a short stay

And still here (swinging the lead) 3 March 1918

W Stainton Corporal 17 Sherwood Foresters Admitted 10 August 1917 Thanking Nurse Russell for her kindness to me while in Hospital
E Baston Driver Royal Field Artillery, 51st Highland Division Admitted 8 August 1917 Thanking Nurse Russell for kind attention and treatment whilst a patient at the Close Hospital
J Sweeney Sergeant 72nd Seaforth Highlanders From Vancouver, Canada

Many thanks to Nurse Russell for her kind attention and treatment whilst a patient at the Close Hospital

J Briggs

John James

Private Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers 69622 19 February 1918 May your shadow never grow less

From Milford in Co. Armagh, married to Minnie

WJ Farrier

William John

Sergeant A Company, 7th Battalion The Buffs (East Kent Regiment)


13562 Born 1888, married Emma Barton in 1911. From Dover in Kent. Enlisted 16 April 1908. Gun shot wound to right leg 3 May 1917, then gun shot wound to left hand 12 October 1917, and another gun shot wound to legs 26 August 1918.To the Red Cross Hospital Winchester 30 August 1918. Demobilised 13 February 1919. Awarded the Military Medal
C Smart


Private 45th Battalion AIF

Australian Imperial Force

784 25 August 1917 Wishing Nurse Russell the best of luck for her kindness to me in Hospital

Born in Gloucestershire. Enlisted September 1914 and served in Gallipoli. Wounded May 1915 and in 1917. Awarded Military Medal for ‘bravery in the field’ during Battle of Messines

W Murray 2nd Battalion Inniskilling Fusiliers I thank Nurse Russell ever so much for her kind attention and treatment during my stay at the Close
FEC Gardner Sergeant Royal Engineers 6 August 1917 With all good wishes
TW Quine

Thomas William



1/8th Irish KLR

Kings Liverpool Regiment



5 August 1917 Wounded at Ypres 31 July 1917


SJ Collins

Sedley James

Private Machine Gun Corps 102516 5 September 1917


Wounded at Ypres 29 July 1917

With all best wishes

Born in 1883, married Ellen Poulson in 1917. From Wandsworth. Enlisted 7 February 1916. Gun shot wound to right thigh 29 July 1917. Discharged 17 December 1917. Disabled as a result of his service. Died 25 January 1919

George Sharpe Private 1/4th Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry 202695


5 September 1917



Wounded by gas at Neuport 22 July 1917.

The Close, A Home from Home

Born 1897. From Dewsbury in Yorkshire. Enlisted 6 September 1916. Wounded by a gas shell on 22 July 1917. Demobilised 7 July 1919

LA Ingram

Leopold Adolphus

Private 1st Worcesters,

Worcestershire Regiment

Royal Warwickshire Regiment





Wounded at Ypres 31 July 1917

With best wishes and a bright future

Born 1899. From Kenilworth in Warwickshire. Enlisted 27 May 1916. Gun shot wound to right shoulder 31 July 1917. Discharged from service 16 April 1918

Herbert Renton Private 17th Royal Welsh Fusiliers 267239 Wounded at Ypres 31 July 1917

Best wishes for the future

Born 1894. From Salford in Manchester. Enlisted 11 December 1915. Gun shot wound to right ankle 31 July 1917. Treated at the Central Military Hospital Winchester 8 August 1917 and assessed by a Medical Board at Winchester 22 October 1917.

Discharged as medically unfit 12 November 1917

C Diplock




Lance Corporal

11th RWK (Royal West Kent Regiment)

Military Foot Police




Wounded at Holibuch 31 July 1917

Born 1898. From Maidstone in Kent. Enlisted 24 January 1916. Gun shot wound to left thigh 31 July 1917. Admitted to the hospital in Winchester 10 August 1917. Transferred to the Military Police 18 May 1918. Discharged from service 23 April 1919

I Lee


Private 8th Canadians 830127 Wooded at Loos

Born in Minnesota in 1895. Enlisted 18 December 1915. Wounded 28 July 1917. Treated at the hospital in Winchester August to September 1917. Returns to Canada in January 1918

HS Hicks London Scottish 10 January 1918
H Harland Royal Garrison Artillery 7 February 1918
Fabian Williams 7 February 1918
G Pegg


Private 1st North Staffs

3rd North Staffordshire Regiment

8780 Wounded at Ypres

Many thanks for the kindness of Nurse Russell while I was in the Close Hospital

Born in 1891. From Normancot near Stoke-on-Trent. Enlisted 1 September 1914. Treated for frost bite in January 1916, then for a gun shot wound to the foot in August 1917. Demobilised 16 February 1919

E Benham Private 1st Wilts Regiment
L Ingram Private 1st Worcesters When I spilt all my soup on my trousers,

It left such a horrible stain,

I was told the marks would vanish,

If I left my pants out in the rain.

So the first rainy evening I left them,

In a garden on top of some plants,

In the morning the stains had all vanished,

By thunder! And so had my pants!

H Nicholls


Private 1st KSR, C Company

1st North Staffordshire Regiment

Labour Corps





Wounded 11 March 1917


Born 1897. From Hilderstone in Staffordshire. Enlisted 28 August 1916. Gun shot wound to left arm 11 March 1917. Discharged from service 3 May 1919


A Townsley





Royal Horse Artillery


Labour Corps




With all good wishes

Born 1874, married Sarah Forrest in 1899, 5 children.  From the NE of England. Enlisted 29 August 1914. Transferred to the Labour Corps in October 1917. Treated for heart problems in 1917 and 1918.  Discharged from service 25 February 1918. Died 11 March 1927

E Morgan


Private A Company, 39th Battalion Australian Imperial Forces 6779 4 November 1917 Wounded at Broodseinde Ridge, Ypres 4 October 1917

He’s out there somewhere,

Where the bushman carries his swag,

Hopping around the station,

With his empty tucker bag.

Enlisted March 1916. Served in France from June 1917. Wounded July 1917 and October 1917

John Hayes Private 1st Gordon Highlanders Wounded 1 September 1918, left leg I always think of you as I sleep then I begin to clap my feet if you care to have a talk with me then we shall go for a walk
JE Miller

John Edward

Private C Company, 17th Battalion Australian Imperial Forces 4779 All men were born alike

From this and every nation

The rich among the poor would be

But for wealth and education

So when we’re laid beneath the sod

With a hundred years to back it

Where is the one who can tell of him

Who wore the ragged jacket

Enlisted January 1916. A draper’s assistant. Sent overseas September 1916. Treated at the hospital in Winchester in December 1917 and discharged soon after

SS Wilkinson Northants Yeomanry 24 August 1918 I’ll go one said Austria

I’ll go two said France

I’ll go three said Russia, because I’ve got the chance

I’ll go Four said German and wipe you off the map

But they all dropped dead when Britain said Gawd Blimey! I’ll go Nap


PS. He’s after his ticket by swinging his leg

F Dobson Private 6th NF (Northumberland Fusiliers) May you never live to want

Many you never want as long as you live

WH Emptage

William Henry

Driver 41 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery 68712 From Margate

Here is to the Sisters so kind and true

Here is to the Nurses the duty they do

And if I am not wrong by asking today

To do you a kindness in return some way

For the kindness you have shown me I shall never forget

For the Doctor as well is one of the best

Born 1882. From Margate in Kent, a builder’s labourer. Enlisted 13 January 1915. Fractured fibula as the result of an accident, 5 December 1917. Discharged from service 4 April 1918 as medically unfit for service

S Beale

Samuel Edward

Private 2/2 London RF

2nd London Regiment, 2nd Bn Royal Fusiliers





From Bedfordshire. Enlisted 9 September 1914 and served initially with the Bedfordshire Regiment from August 1915 to August 1917 in Egypt and France.  He transferred to the London Regiment 20 August 1917 and was wounded whilst serving with them on 21 September 1917. Discharged from service due to his wounds on 28 February 1918
J Raistrick


Private 2/6 West Riding Regiment 24833 2 January to 29 February


Born 1882. From Idle near Bradford. Enlisted 8 August 1916.

Gun shot wound to right forearm 16 April 1917. Discharged from service 31 May 1918

DCM Bagley Private 1st 60 Rifles Here’s to the happiest days of my life spent in the arms of another mans wife (my mother)
J Burden

James John

Sapper Royal Engineers

288th A Troop

170191 Discharged 2 November 1918


Thanking Nurse Russell for her kindness during my stay at the Close

Born 1878, from Yeovil in Somerset. Enlisted 22 May 1916.  Discharged from service 2 November 1918

J Burridge


Private 846 Area Employment Co

(Labour Corps)






I am getting old and very near done

I have done my share and help defeat the Hun

Now my sons have gone to take my place

I feel quite proud of England’s race

Born 1877. From Cardiff. Married Harriet Traverse in 1895, two children. Enlisted 16 March 1915 with the Welsh Regiment. Transferred to Cheshire Regiment in March 1916 and then to the Labour Corps in May 1917. Treated for bronchitis May 1918 and appeared before a medical board at Winchester in August 1918. Discharged from service 2 September 1918

H Walmlate Lance Corporal 25th Royal  Fusiliers Frontiersmen East Africa
N Daniels


Lance Corporal 1st Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry

12th Manchester Regiment



Very Best Wishes

Born 1897. From Manchester. Enlisted 21 April 1915.

Gun shot wound to the left hand 26 August 1918. Discharged from service 20 December 1918

P Mills Rifleman 1st Rifle Brigade
AE Costain

Alfred Ernest

Lance Corporal 7th (Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry) Border Regiment






22 October 1918


Wounded 25 August

It’s a long land that has no turning

Thanking Nurse Russell for her kindness during my stay in the Close

Born 1898. From the Isle of Man. Enlisted 28 August 1916 with the Liverpool Regiment. Transferred to the Border Regiment in May 1917. Gun shot wounds to left arm, left side and back 25 August 1918. Treated at the Winchester VAD Hospital 30 August 1918 to 20 January 1919. Demobilised 24 February 1919

JWA Milner Sergeant Royal Field Artillery I have a friend, a dear, good friend

A loyal friend, and kind,

And when I count my blessings up

That friend is in my mind;

I often wish within my heart,

That I might ever be

As good a friend to that true friend,

As is that friend to me

J Weir


Bugler 5th Durham Light Infantry 204083 Wounded at Koyo 28 March 1918 Many thanks to Nurse Russell for looking after me in the Hut

Born 1898. From Dawdon near Seaham, County Durham. Enlisted 23 July 1915. Wounded 28 March 1918. Discharged 11 July 1919.

MR Traves

Morley Robert

3rd Kings Own Hussars 21425 Born 1891. From Bournemouth. Worked as an electrician
F Antill Sapper RELROC

Royal Engineers

Many thanks to Nurse Russell for her kindness at the Close Hospital
WJ Robertson

William James

Private 13th Battalion Australian Imperial Forces 2226 4 February 1918 Born in Sydney. Enlisted March 1916. Served overseas from January 1917. At the Winchester hospital from December 1917. Returned to Australia in April 1918
GW Rainbow

Gilbert William

Private Bedford Regiment 60950 22 October 1918 From Hillmorton near Rugby, Warwickshire

With best wishes to Nurse Russell

Born 1894. Enlisted 17 November 1915. Mobilised 25 April 1918. Wound to left hand September 1918 – later amputated. Discharged from service 10 July 1919. Married Winifred McLeod in February 1918

Edd Gore Private 22 October 1918 Heres to the girl I love and wish she was mine if soldiering would bring her near I would soldier all the time
SJ Collins

Sedley James

Private Machine Gun Corps, 195 Com, 25 Div. 102516 2 November 1917 Wounded at Ypres 29 July 1917 [see earlier entry]

Poem called Fortunes of War

Many thanks to Nurse Russell during my stay at the Close

See earlier entry

G Redhead 2nd Private RAF I looked these pages o’er and o’er

To see what others wrote before

And in this little lonely spot

I’ll inscribe forget me not

T Osborne Private 26 Northumberland Fusiliers Thanking Nurse Russell for her kind and attention to me during my stay at the Close. With best wishes
EJ Moore

Edward James

Gunner 162 Royal Field Artillery 21896 With best thanks to all for kindness and attention, with best wishes

Born 1892. From Camberwell. Worked as a chemist’s assistant. Enlisted 18 April 1915 and served in France. Wounded by a gas shell 24 September 1918. Discharged as medically unfit 21 January 1919. Died 25 October 1964, left a widow called Rose

W Duffield

William Henry

Gunner v/iv HTMB [heavy trench mortar battery], Royal Field Artillery 43843 17 July 1918 Discharged in March 1920. Medals awarded in 1921 after a case of mistaken identity in which he was erroneously accused of desertion
WH Williams

William Henry

Private 4th RR Berks

Royal Berkshire Regiment

Later Army Service Corps

41684 25 August 1918 Pussy cat Pussy cat where have you been

Telling those dreadful crams

The Winchester people are longing to sea

Their new electrick trams

From Devonport. Discharged from service 19 September 1918

F Sells

Frederick Reginald

Private 17th Battalion Australian Imperial Force Enlisted in July 1916, 18 years old. Served in France from September 1917, wounded 8 August 1918 and again on 2 October 1918. Admitted to the Winchester hospital on 15 March 1918. Returned to Australia March 1919
H Warburton


Sapper Royal Engineers 494411 24 July 1918 Thanking Nurse Russell for her kindness whilst in Hospital in the Close


If I know you and you know me

If both of us could clearly see

And with inner sight divine

The meaning of your heart and mine

I think in love not the less

I clasp our hands in blindness

Our thoughts would pleasantly agree

If know you and you know me

Born in 1889. From Bristol. Enlisted 17 December 1914. Wounded 15 June 1918 and a patient at the Winchester hospital from 19 June to 29 August 1918. Demobilised 17 April 1919

R Finch Private


6th Cheshires 25 July 1918 The rain falls on the just,

And on the unjust fella,

But more upon the just,

Because the unjust’s got the just’s umbrella

J Massee Private 2nd 10th Londons 24 July 1918 Once a sport, always a sport. Oh! La-la, la-la!

Thanks to Nurse Russell for all the kindnesses shown during my stay at the Close


George Grant

Gunner Royal Garrison Artillery 115994 15 August 1918 Avington Park Camp, Winchester

Thanking you for your kindness during my stay at The Close

Born 1889. From Hastings. Enlisted 21 February 1916. Served overseas. Discharged 24 October 1918

JF BattenJohn Francis Private 46th Battalion Australian Imperial Force First God made man

Then he made women

Then he felt sorry for the man

And made tobacco

Enlisted in December 1917 at the age of 18. Left Australia February 1918 and served in France from July 1918. Wounded 18 September and was at the Winchester hospital until November 1918

J Gardiner


Lance Corporal 7th Royal West Kent Regt 10792 10 September 1918 With all good wishes

Born 1896. From Brookwood in Surrey. Enlisted 25 May 1915. Wounded leg, shoulder and forehead 14 October 1916. Wounded again 26 April 1918. Discharged 22 February 1919.

WJ Ward

Walter James

Rifleman 6th Battalion Rifle Brigade 44856 28 January 1919 Thanking Nurse Russell for her great kindness to me during my stay at the Close

Born 1898. From Poplar in London, a general labourer who worked at Bell Wharf. Discharged 28 November 1919


Joseph Thomas

Private 1st Leicester

Leicestershire Regiment

28458 Born 1898. From Leicester. Treated for heart problems and Neurasthenia (shell-shock). Discharged 27 January 1919 and received a pension from 1919 to 1930

William Hugh Stewart

Gunner Royal Garrison Artillery 318799 22 August 1918 Good bye sisters and nurses to,

For services rendered I pay homage to you.

To you a kindness I hope to return some day,

For the kindness shown me I shall ne’er forget,

The doctor to is one of the best,

And I shall leave the Close with the deepest regret


To Nurse Russell for services rendered. Wishing you the best of luck

Born 1892. From Highbury in London. Enlisted 31 May 1915. Served overseas and wounded 7 January 1918. Discharged 10 September 1918.

J Harrison Rifleman 1st Kings Royal Rifle Corps 24 October 1918 Little bits of bayonets,

Little bursts of shell,

Puts the wind up Mr Fritz,

And makes him run like ‘L’

J Hayes Private Army Veterinary Corps 31639 Thank you for the kind looking and taken of me
‘baby Jim’ Army Veterinary Corps 32477 Many thanks for your kindness to Baby Jim can I have some milk please
PM Loughlin Private RFC Admitted 1 September Wounded 29 August
A Hartly


Private Army Service Corps


262899 I thank you very much for your kindness in the way you have look after me

From Morley in Yorkshire. Enlisted 6 October 1916. In hospital with influenza July 1918 and then again with a hernia in September 1918. At the hospital in Winchester from 30 September to 15 November 1918. Served at the Remount Depot in Romsey – no overseas service. Discharged 23 October 1919

GF Windebank

George Frederick Windebanks


Sergeant 605 Agric Coy

Labour Corps

Hampshire Regiment




I thank you very much for your kindness in the way you look after me. Good luck

Appears to have been a regular soldier before the war. Deployed to Gallipoli 8 May 1915. Continued as a soldier after the war

F Rook


Private Royal Army Medical Corps 508598 Meet tonight in dreamland

Born 1891. From Enfield in North London. Enlisted 3 June 1915 with the 6th City of London Rifles (service number 4364 and 321842). Wounded 21 May 1917 at the Battle of Bullecourt. Treated for nephritis August 1917. Transferred to the RAMC 5 February 1918, treated at the Winchester hospital Oct-Nov 1918, and served with the RAMC until his discharge on 11 August 1919. Awarded the Military Medal

CH Simmonds Gunner Royal Garrison Artillery Gassed at Ypres 12 September 1917

With all good wishes to Nurse Russell

JP Johnson

Joseph Patrick

Private D Coy 50th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force 5133 The Close. Home from Home

Enlisted January 1916 at the age of 27. In France from April 1918. Admitted to the Winchester hospital with bronchitis October 1918

H Bascombe

Harry Gladstone

Private Hampshire Regiment

Also served with other units – Wiltshire Regiment and the Labour Corps (other service numbers are 25883, 12766, 286519)

42482 Thanking Nurse Russell for all her kindness to me while in hospital


God made Bees

Bees make Honey

The Infantry do the work

And the R.E get the money

Born 1886 in Poole. Married Lucy Delaney in 1906. Worked as a boot repairer. Enlisted 12 December 1915. Did not serve overseas. Treated for tuberculosis. Discharged 7 March 1919

SG Lucas Rifleman KRRs

Kings Royal Rifles

125 Beaufoy Road, Lavender Hill, London
H Short



Private 5th Battalion Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 62nd Div

1/5th Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry





Admitted 29 July 1918 Gassed 10 July 1917, wounded 20 July 1918

Thanking Nurse Russell for her kind attention received whilst in the Close. With best wishes and Happiness


‘never fought and never been defeated (what hopes)’.

Born 1898. From Sheffield. Enlisted 10 December 1915. Wounded in both legs 20 July 1918 at Chalons in France Demobilised 22 February 1919. From Sheffield

J Hobin Private 1st East Lancs, Discharged 8 August 1918 There are many ways and many words in which I could address you but what is better than this phrase straight from my heart God Bless You
Wood Sergeant 7th Buffs Discharged 8 August 1918 Here’s to Nurse Russell and All the Staff. May happiness guide them through life’s path. Actions speak lounder than words

Thanking Nurse Russell for her kindness to me and every attention given

G Bird Private 1 August 1918
William Selfridge Private 12 Highland Light Infantry, 15th Scottish Division

Royal Army Medical Corps





6 August 1917 Though only a private and not a grand duke

I am determined to have the last page in this book

Born 1886. From Low Waters in Hamilton, Scotland. Married Catherine Nugent 1909. Enlisted 10 September 1914. Wounded in the chest 30 June 1917. Demobilised 23 July 1918


John James Burden was from Somerset. He enlisted in 1916 at the age of 36 – he was a shoeing smith. He served with the Royal Engineers and was eventually discharged from service because of his wounds in November 1918. He was given a small pension and a grant of money which he used to set himself up as a poultry farmer.

John Burridge was from Cardiff and enlisted at Abergavenny in March 1915. He was about the same age as Burden. He served initially with the Welsh Regiment at home and in France but was transferred to the Labour Corps in 1917. Working and living outside would appear to have affected John’s heath as he was treated in hospital for bronchitis from May to August 1918 and was soon after discharged from military service as medically unfit. John was a bricklayer before the war. He was married to Harriet, and they had two sons – Thomas born in 1901 and Walter in 1904. The comment made on his attestation record was that he looked ‘over the declared age’.

Sedley James Collins has two entries in the book. He was a miller from Wandsworth who enlisted in February 1916 at the age of 33. He served in the Machine Gun Corps and was mobilised in March 1917. He was wounded in the thigh on 27 July 1917 and the wound must have been a severe one because he was discharged from service as a result. He died in January 1919.

Alfred Costain was born in 1898 and was a boot repairer from the Isle of Man. He enlisted in February 1916 and served in the Border Regiment. He served in England from April 1916 to April1917 and was then in France until August 1918. Alfred had various spells in hospital for the treatment of scabies, impetigo, and a couple of sprains. He was wounded in the arm, side and back in August 1918. That was the end of his service. He was awarded a disability pension and found work at a holiday camp after the war.

Cecil Diplock was from Maidstone in Kent and was 18 years old when he enlisted in January 1916. He served with the BEF from December 1916 to August 1917 and was wounded in action at the end of July 1917. He evidently recovered sufficiently to continue his service with the Military Police. Cecil was discharged from service as medically unfit in April 1919.

William Farrier had the longest military career of those we have researched so far. He was born in 1888 and came from Dover in Kent. He served in the volunteer battalion of the Buffs from 1906 and was then mobilised when war broke out in August 1914. His regiment served in India and Aden from 1914 to 1916 and it is only from December 1916 that William saw service in Europe. He was wounded three times between May 1917 and August 1918 and was eventually demobilised in February 1919. William was awarded the Military Medal for ‘bravery in the field’.

Jack Gardiner was a barman from Brookwood in Surrey. He enlisted at Kilburn in May 1915 and served at home for just over a year, then again from November 1916 to May 1917, and again from May 1918 to February 1919. He served in France twice – July to November 1916 and June 1916 to May 1918 and was wounded on each occasion. A medical board assessed him in November 1918 and considered Jack to have a 70% disablement and he was therefore granted a pension.

Arthur Hartley was a Baptist from Yorkshire who worked in a woollen mill. He enlisted at Pontefract and was found to have poor eyesight. He served at a Remount depot in Romsey throughout the war had spells in hospital at Romsey and Winchester for influenza and a hernia.

Leopold Ingram was born in Kenilworth in 1899 and he enlisted in May 1916. He served with Worcestershire Regiment and then the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and was wounded in the shoulder on 31 July 1917. This was evidently a serious wound as Leopold was still considered as having a 40% level of disablement in 1920. He was discharged from service in April 1918.

George Pegg was from Staffordshire. He was born in 1891 and worked in the potteries. He enlisted on 1 September 1914 and served with the North Staffordshire Regiment in the Balkans and then in France. This included service in Gallipoli and a bout of frostbite caused by exposure whilst encamped at Suvla Bay. He was wounded again in August 1917 whilst serving on the Western Front and was only discharged from hospital in February 1918. George survived 4 years and 169 days of military service and was demobbed in January 1919.

Gilbert Rainbow was a groom from Rugby. He enlisted in 1915 and was wounded in the hand in October 1918. This wound sadly led to the amputation of part of his arm and Gilbert was awarded a life pension on his discharge from service. He evidently recovered well because the 1939 Register records that he was working as a tool fitter.

Frank Rook was from Enfield and was a tea warehouseman. He enlisted in June 1916 and had several spells in hospital – for bronchitis in November 1916 and influenza in October and November 1918. In 1917, he was in hospital in Dorchester for a month suffering from a kidney infection caused by ‘exposure’. This came soon after he was discharged from hospital after treatment for a chest wound received in action at Bullecourt in May 1917. Frank was awarded the Military Medal in July 1917.

William Selfridge was a coal miner from Scotland who enlisted in September 1914. He was wounded at Ypres in June 1917 and the discharged as medically unfit the following summer. William received a disability pension from 1919 until 1923 when he emigrated to America. His wife and daughter followed him to New York in 1924.

George Sharpe was a rag worker from Dewsbury in Yorkshire and was 18 years old when he enlisted in September 1916. He served in France and was gassed in July 1917. This is what brought him to the hospital in Winchester. George returned to service and was demobilised in the summer of 1919. He evidently wasn’t a well man because he was still in receipt of a disablement pension in 1924.

Horace Short was a milk or cow man from Sheffield who was wounded in both legs during an action at Chalons in July 1918. Horace spent a month in hospital in France and then another four months in the Red Cross Hospital in Winchester, no doubt recovering from the operation he’d had to remove shrapnel from his legs. He had already spent a few spells in hospital for impetigo and trench fever. The leg injuries qualified Horace for a pension, but he also returned to work – the 1921 census states that he was working as a general labourer.

Herbert Warburton sticks out literally from the crowd – he is the tallest man we have researched. Herbert was 6ft tall and worked as a painter. Like Horace Short, he was treated for both trench fever and a wound to his leg. He was treated at the Winchester hospital for three months over the summer of 1918.

James Weir from County Durham is one of the youngest soldiers we have researched. His service record shows that he was often in trouble for a variety of petty misdemeanours. He enlisted in July 1915 and only serves abroad from February 1918. James was wounded in the shoulder and leg in March 1918, wounds which gave him a disability pension through to 1925.

The final British soldier we have looked at so far is Ambrose Townsley. He was from the North East of England and was born in 1874. He enlisted right at the start of the war with the Royal Horse Artillery from the Army Reserves having previously served in the Second Boer War with that regiment. He was therefore involved in the fighting from early October 1914 through to February 1915, service which qualified him for the Mons Star and Ribbon. His service on the Western Front continued through 1915 and was then interrupted by a spell in prison in 1916 for bigamy (Ambrose had several serious brushes with the law before the war and spent time in prison as a result). He continued his military service from February 1917, transferring to the Labour Corps in October 1917, and ended up in hospital with heart problems later that year. Ambrose was finally discharged from service as medically unfit in February 1918. He died in 1927.

There is one Canadian soldier, Ingval Lee. He was born in Minnesota in 1895, the son of John and Clara Lee. He worked as a farmer before he enlisted at Winnipeg on 18 December 1915. Ingval sailed from Halifax in September 1916 and served with the 8th Canadians – also known as the Winnipeg Rifles. His service records do not give details of exactly where he served but Ingval was reported as dangerously wounded on 28 July 1917 at Lens on the Ypres Salient. He suffered concussion, a contusion to the chest and gunshot wounds to his right leg. Ingval initially spent a month in hospital in Rouen and was then shipped back across the Channel at the end of August 1917 for further treatment. He was a patient at the Red Cross Hospital in Winchester from 29 August until 20 September. Then followed time at the Canadian Convalescent Hospital in Wokingham and Ingval was eventually send home to Canada in January 1918 – he was discharged as medically unfit for service on 22 March 1918.

Seven Australian soldiers have signed Violet’s autograph book. They are:

  • Edward Morgan, A Company, 39th Battalion Australian Imperial Force (AIF)
  • Charles Smart, 45th Battalion AIF
  • Joseph Patrick Johnson, 50th Battalion, AIF
  • William James Robertson, 13th Battalion AIF
  • Frederick Reginald Sells, 17th Battalion AIF
  • John Edward Miller, 17th Battalion AIF
  • John Francis Batten, 46th Battalion AIF

The youngest were Batten and Sells. Batten came from Johnstoneville in Victoria and was a surveyor’s assistant. He enlisted in December 1917 and left Australia in February 1918 to serve with the 17th Battalion Australian Imperial Force. His unit was sent to France in July 1918 and Batten came down with measles a month later. He was wounded on 18 September, shot in the arm and the foot, mostly likely in the fighting around the Hindenburg Line. He was sent to the Red Cross Hospital in Winchester in late September 1918, was discharged on 21 November and then left the UK to return to Australia at Christmastime.

Fred Sells was a labourer from Bourke in New South Wales. He enlisted in July 1916 and left Sydney for the UK in November 1916. He was in France by September 1917 with the 17th Battalion Australian Imperial Force and was wounded in August 1918. This must have been a slight wound as he re-joined his regiment in mid-September, but, on 2 October, he was wounded in the leg, probably during fighting around the Hindenburg Line. Fred was sent to the Red Cross Hospital in Winchester on 15 October 1918 and returned to Australia at the end of March 1919, discharged as medically unfit for service.

William Robertson was a fencer from Sydney and was 28 years old when he enlisted in March 1916. He arrived in France in January 1917 and served with the 13th Australian Imperial Force. William’s service records reveal that he was sick on and off throughout 1917 – his unit was serving in Belgium in the advance on the Hindenburg Line. He was admitted to the Red Cross in Winchester on 7 December 1917 suffering with sciatica. He was there for just two months and then returned to Australia in April 1918 where he was discharged as medically unfit – neurasthenia (shell-shock) was given as the reason.

John Miller was from Sunny Hills in Sydney and enlisted in January 1916 at the age of 32. He was a draper’s assistant and was sent overseas in September 1916 with the 17th Battalion Australian Imperial Force. He was plagued with sickness and was admitted to the Red Cross Hospital in Winchester on 7 December 1917 with a hernia and was quite quickly sent back to Australia where he was discharged as medically unfit for service in July 1918.

Joseph Johnson’s service was similar. Aged 27 when he enlisted in January 1916, Joseph arrived in the UK in February 1918 after a journey from Adelaide which included stops at Egypt, Alexandria, Italy and France. He served with the 50th Battalion Australian Imperial Force and was most likely in action at Villers-Bretonneux in April 1918. Joseph was admitted to the Winchester Red Cross Hospital on 15 October 1918 suffering from bronchitis and then returned to Australia two months later where he was discharged as medically unfit.

Edward Morgan was born in Queensland and enlisted in March 1916 in Melbourne at the age of 27. He was a hairdresser. He served with the 39th Australian Imperial Force and arrived in France in June 1917 and was wounded the following month. After two weeks of treatment and recuperation, he rejoined his regiment on 27 July. He was wounded again, this time in the foot, on 4 October 1917, in the battle at Broodseinde Ridge near Ypres and was admitted to the Red Cross Hospital in Winchester on 16 October. Then followed treatment at a hospital in Harefield before Edward returned to Australia in the late summer of 1918.

Charles Smart is perhaps the most interesting of the Australian soldiers. He was born in Gloucestershire – we don’t know when he emigrated to Australia – and enlisted at Rosebery Park in New South Wales in September 1914 at the age of 22. He was a labourer. Charles was part of the 13th Australian Imperial Force who landed in Gallipoli in late April 1915. He was wounded in the shoulder on 7 May 1915 and was evacuated to hospital. Charles then re-joined his unit in February 1916 when it was amalgamated with newly enlisted troops to form the 45th Battalion AIF in March 1916. The 45th were sent to France soon after and Charles had a run of various illnesses between November 1916 and the early summer of 1917 – malaria, bronchitis, pleurisy, scabies, and swollen ankles. He was wounded again on 5 July 1917, this time during fighting at Ploegstrete, a bad shrapnel wound to his thigh. He was admitted to the Red Cross Hospital in Winchester on 9 July and was then moved to another hospital in late August before being sent back to Australia in October 1917. He was discharged from service on the grounds of ill health in June 1918. Charles was awarded the Military Medal for ‘bravery in the field’ on 7 June 1917 during the Battle of Messines.

We hope the detail in this autograph book and the research we have undertaken on some of the soldiers has been of interest to readers. There are more names to research and we would welcome more information on any of these men.

Jack Gardiner and Walter Ward


Group including Joseph Hammond, John Miller and Leopold Ingram

Authors: Suzanne Foster and Patrick Craze

Suzanne researched the Canadian and Australian soldiers and can be contacted at

Patrick researched the British soldiers and can be contacted at

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