Joshua Davies, Francis Lancelot Farnell, Francis Rubenstein Linekar and George William Linekar

Gail Brumfitt Main Author of the Following Biography

Gail Brumfitt Main Author of the Following Biographies

Joshua Davies

Joshua was the second youngest son of eight children born to Joseph (1841-1900) and Hannah Davies (neé Smith 1843-1887). Joseph Davies was born in Grange and was the son of agricultural labourer, Edward (1806-1879) and Nancy Davies (neé Pownall 1807-1889). Joshua’s siblings were: Hannah Smith Davies (1862-1931); Isabella (1864-1913); Joseph Henry (1867-1951); Charles (1870-1936); Richard (1873-1954); Nancy (1880-1926); and John (1882-?).

Joshua was baptised on 15th December 1876 at St John, Frankby and the register shows that his parents were living in Caldy, however, later Census records state that he was born in Irby.

In 1871 the family were living in Newton cum Larton and the 1881 Census reveals that they had moved to 9 Lang Terrace, West Kirby where Joseph, age 39 was employed as a stone quarryman. Hannah was a year younger and born in West Kirby. The children at home were Joseph age 13, Charles age 11 both were born in Newton cum Larton, Richard age 7 born in West Kirby, Joshua age 4 born in Irby, and Nancy age 1 born in Great Meols.

The 1891 Census reveals that the family were living in Birkett Road, West Kirby. By this time Joseph was employed as a general labourer and was a widower, Hannah having died in 1887. The children now at home were Isabella age 26; Charles, a general labourer age 21; Richard age 17; Joshua age 14; and John age 9 who was still in school.

Isabella Davies married George Johnston in 1894 and they were living at 14 Birkett Road in 1901 along with their three children and Isabella’s brother, Joseph Davies, who was now age 36 and employed as a builder’s labourer. This was most likely the same house that the family were living in 1891. Joseph Davies had died in 1900 and George Johnston was now the head of the household. It is possible that Joshua also lived there but he was most likely away from home in 1901 as he had volunteered to serve in the Boer War. His WWI service records reveal that Joshua served in the 27th Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry, and the UK Military Campaign Medal and Award Rolls (1793-1949) show that he was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal (QSA) along with the South Africa 1902 and Cape Colony clasps.

QSA - South Africa 1902 and Cape Colony Clasp

Queen’s South Africa Medal with Cape Colony Clasp, Dated 1902

In 1911 the family were still living at 14 Birkett Road, with George and Isabella Johnston, their three children Joseph, Hannah and Doris, and Isabella’s siblings Joseph Henry who was employed as a labourer; Richard, a bricksetter’s labourer; Joshua, a stone mason; and Nancy, a cook.

On 25th January 1913 Joshua married Maude Mary Elizabeth Douglas at the Methodist Chapel, West Kirby and their daughter, Hilda Maud Emma Davies was born on 14th June, the same year. At some time after their marriage the family settled at 4 Murray Grove, West Kirby.

Joshua enlisted at Hoylake on 16th November 1915 into the South Lancashire Regiment, stating that he lived at 4 Murray Grove, West Kirby, was 39 years 39 days old, was married, employed as a mason, and had served in the 27th Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry. He was 5’ 7”, had a 35½” chest with 2½” expansion and was 132lb.

South Lancashire Regiment Cap Badge

South Lancashire Regiment Cap Badge

Joshua served at home from enlistment on 16th November 1915. He was mobilised on 2nd August 1916 and posted to the 13th (reserve) Battalion. On 29th August he transferred to the 3rd Battalion, and transferred again on 2nd December to the 2nd Battalion. On 3rd December Joshua embarked at Southampton, disembarking at Le Harve on 4th December 1916, where the Battalion joined the 75th Brigade, 25th Division.

Page 1 of Joshua Davies's Service Records

Page 1 of Joshua Davies’s Service Records

The first few months of 1917 were spent in the Ploegsteert sector, where there were frequent raids and some minor operations but it was relatively quiet, then the Division took part in the Battle of Messines which placed them in the front line. The operation was successful, however, they lost 145 officers and 2,907 men were either killed, wounded, or missing. A further successful attack on 14th and 15th June saw the Division advance the line a further 800 yards through Gapaard. On the night of 22nd June the Division began to withdraw and moved to rest in Bomy, near St-Omar, when on 7th July they moved onto Ypres.

On 8th July a Divisional HQ was established at Busseboom, where it was to take place in the Battle of Pilckem which began on 31st July. During this time Joshua received a gunshot wound to his back on 23rd July and was hospitalised until 28th July. This battle was again another successful one but also saw the loss of 47 officers and 1,244 men were killed, wounded or missing. Joshua was granted leave to the UK between 16th December and 30th December 1917.

During the first half of 1918, Joshua most likely saw action in the Battle of St Quentin –  The first Battle of Bapaume, the Battle of Estaires, the Battle of Messines 1918, the Battle of Bailleul, the first and second Battle of Kemmel, and the Battle of the Aisne. Due to the number of losses during these battles, by 9th June a decision had been made to break up what was left of the Division to reinforce other formations. Joshua’s Battalion joined the 30th Division.

Between 18th August and 6th September, the 30th Division took part in the advance in Flanders with the Capture of Neuve Eglise and the capture of Wulverghem. On 28th September 1918, the 30th Division took part in the final advance in Flanders; however, Joshua was killed in action just two days earlier. The Deeside Advertiser claimed that he had been killed by a shell whilst acting as “gas guard” in his trench.

On 8th May 1920, Joshua’s widow was asked to provide her exact address to the War Office so that his death plaque and scroll could be sent to her.

Birth: October 1876 in Caldy or Irby
Death: 26th September 1918 killed in action age 42
Address: 9 Lang Terrace, Grange (81); Birkett Road, West Kirby (91); 14 Birkett Road, West Kirby (11); 4 Murray Grove, West Kirby (15)
Occupation: Stonemason
Unit: 2nd Bn, Prince of Wales Volunteers (South Lancashire Regiment)
Number and Rank: Private 22626
Medals: QSA, Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: GH, WK, Belgium: Westoutre British Cemetery O 16
Sources: CWGC, SDGW, MC, SR, DA, Census: 81, 91, 11

Francis Lancelot Farnell

Francis Lancelot Farnall in the "Deeside Advertiser" of 6.10.16

Francis Lancelot Farnall in the “Deeside Advertiser” of 6.10.16

The surname Farnall is of Anglo Saxon origin, and may be either a topographical name from residence by a fern covered hill, deriving from “fearn”, or fern (a collective noun), with “hyll”, hill, or a locational name from any of the places named with the above elements such as Farnell (Wood) in Kent; Farnell (Copse), Wiltshire; Farnhill in the West Riding of Yorkshire, entered as “Fernehil” in the Domesday Book, and Fernhill in Berkshire, Surrey, Hampshire, Worcestershire and Lancashire. In 1881 the highest concentration of the name was in Staffordshire, followed very closely by Shropshire and Warwickshire, then Kent and Lancashire.

Francis was the only son of Ernest (1858-1936) and Margaret Hannah Farnall (neé Linekar 1861-1940). Ernest was Headmaster of the Elementary School in Hoylake. He was born in Tettenhall, Staffordshire His father, William Farnall (1805-1891), was a carpenter also born in Tettenhall, and his mother, Jane (neé Biddlestone 1817-1901) was born in Wolverhampton. Margaret Linekar was born in Hoylake, the daughter of John (1830-1878) and Mary Linekar (neé Lanceley 1828-1912). John Linekar was a plumber and grocer and his family from Great Meols, can be traced to the late seventeenth century. Mary Lanceley was born in Mollington the daughter of gardener, Thomas and his wife Elizabeth Lanceley. Perhaps Francis acquired the middle name of Lancelot as a derivative of his maternal grandmother’s maiden name of Lanceley.

In 1891 Francis and his mother were staying with her brother, Thomas Linekar, at “Heatherbrow” Colwyn Bay. The Census shows that Thomas was a teacher of music aged 32 born in Hoylake; his wife Lucy (neé Jones) was aged 33 born in Holyhead, Anglesey and their son John was aged four. Margaret Farnall was aged 29, born in Hoylake and Francis was just 12 months old, born in Hoylake. Lucy’s widowed mother, Mary Jones, aged 71 was also living there. Ernest Farnall, an elementary teacher, was living in Market Street, Hoylake with Margaret’s widowed mother Mary Linekar, who was a grocer.

Ten years later in 1901, the family were living at 53 Alderley Road, Hoylake where Ernest was aged 43 and an Elementary Schoolmaster, Margaret was aged 39, Charles was aged 10 and Margaret’s widowed mother Mary Linekar, was living on her own means, aged 73. Another 10 years on in 1911, the family were still the same except for having aged ten years and Ernest was now described as the Head School Teacher and Charles was an apprentice with the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board. Between the 1901 and 1911 census years Charles had attended Calday Grammar School.

Francis enlisted in the 14th battalion, Cheshire Regiment at Hoylake on 1st December 1915. He was 25 years 214 days old, 5’ 7¾“, chest measurement was 35” with a 2” expansion and he weighed 10 stone. His next of kin was his father, Ernest Farnall of 53 Alderley Road, Hoylake.

Cheshire Regiment Badge

Cheshire Regiment Badge

On 21st February 1916 Francis was posted to the 3rd battalion and on 30th June to the 8th battalion, Cheshire Regiment. This battalion was formed at Chester on 12th August 1914 as part of K1 and came under orders of 40th Brigade, 13th (Western) Division. In June 1915 they embarked for Egypt and then to Gallipoli. In January 1916 they moved to Egypt and the following month to Mesopotamia. An article in the Liverpool Echo on 5th October 1916 reports that Francis sailed for Mesopotamia on 29th June.

His obituary appeared in the Deeside Advertiser on 6th October 1916. As it is such an eloquent and touching tribute to this young man, we show it in full below:

Francis Farnall's Obituary from the "Deeside Advertiser" of 6th October 1916

Francis Farnall’s Obituary from the “Deeside Advertiser” of 6th October 1916

Birth: 1890 Hoylake
Death:  6th September 1916 died of disease contracted whilst on active service aged 26
Address:  Heatherbrow, Colwyn Bay, Llandrillo yn Rhos, Caernarvonshire (91); 53 Alderley Road, Hoylake (01-16)
Occupation:  Clerk, Mersey Docks & Harbour Board
Unit:  8th Bn. Cheshire Regiment
Number and Rank: Private 35502
Medals:  British, Victory
Commemorated and Buried:  GH, H, Iraq: Basra Memorial V D 3
Sources: CWGC, SDGW, MC, SR, DA, LE, Census: 91, 01, 11

Francis Rubenstein Linekar 

Francis was born in 1895, in Colwyn Bay, Caernarvonshire. His father, Thomas Joseph Linaker (1858-1818), was a Professor of Music and so perhaps Francis acquired his middle name after the Polish born classical pianist, Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982), who was recognised as a child prodigy at the age of four. Francis had one brother, John Clarence Linekar (1887-1951) born at Colwyn Bay, who was awarded the silver war badge for his service during the Great War.

Thomas Joseph Linekar was born in Hoylake, the son of John (1830-1878) and Mary Linekar (neé Lanceley 1828-1912). The Linekars were a well established family from Hoylake and Meols and can be traced to the late seventeeth century. Francis’ mother, Lucy Mary Jones (1856-1934), was born at Holyhead, Anglesey, and her father, John Jones, born about 1816 also at Holyhead, had a naval background and served on HMS Eagle in Liverpool.

In 1901 the family were living at Sea Forth, Colwyn Bay, Llandrillo yn Rhos, Caernarvonshire, where Thomas was aged 42 a teacher of music born in Hoylake, Lucy was 43, born Holyhead, both John and Francis were born Colwyn Bay and aged 14 and 6 respectively. By 1911 the family had moved to Bryn Deryn, Queens Park, Colwyn Bay. Thomas was no longer teaching music and was employed as an accountant for the gas department of the UDC. John had left home and Francis was aged 16 and still at school. Lucy was also a school teacher before her marriage to Thomas Linaker. In 1881 she was living in Hoylake and boarding with the Holmes family, the head of the household was William Holmes, another elementary school teacher born in Castle Sowerby, Cumberland.

The service records for Francis no longer survive, but he enlisted at Liverpool in the 1st/6th Kings (Liverpool Regiment) known as the “Rifles”. This was part of the Territorial force and was formed in August 1914 at Princes Park Barracks, Liverpool, as part of the Liverpool Brigade, West Lancashire Division. On 24th February 1915 Frances was posted to France landing at Le Harve on 25th February, where the Brigade transferred to the 15th Brigade, 5th Division.

King's Liverpool Regiment Cap Badge in Use 1898-1927

King’s Liverpool Regiment Cap Badge in Use 1898-1927

Francis would most likely have seen action at the second battle of Ypres. This saw the first mass use by Germany of poison gas on the western front. Perhaps two of the battles Francis was possibly engaged in were the Battle of Gravenstafel fought between 22nd and 23rd April, and the Battle of St Julien fought between 24th April and 5th May 1915.

Francis Rubenstein linekar's Medal Card

Francis Rubenstein linekar’s Medal Card

Francis’ cousin, Francis Lancelot Farnell was also killed during the war, as was a second cousin, George William Linaker.

A memorial plaque which was situated at Holy Trinity Church, Hoylake reads:

To the dear memory of Francis Lancelot Farnall and of his cousin and comrade Francis R Linekar who gave their lives for their country in the Great War. This window is dedicated by their parents.

King's liverpool egiment Panel on the Menin Gate; F.R. Linekar is near the top on the left.

King’s liverpool egiment Panel on the Menin Gate; F.R. Linekar is near the top on the left.

Birth: 1895 Colwyn Bay, Caernarvonshire
Death:  5th May 1915 killed in action aged 20
Address:  Sea Forth, Colwyn Bay, Llandrillo yn Rhos, Caernarvonshire (01); Bryn Deryn, Queens Park, Colwyn Bay, Llandrillo yn Rhos, Caernarvonshire (11)
Occupation:  ?
Unit:  1st/6th Bn. King’s (Liverpool Regiment)
Number and Rank: Private 1914
Medals:  British, Victory
Commemorated and Buried:  GH, H, Belgium Ypres, Menin Gate. Panel 4-6
Sources: CWGC, SDGW, MC, LE, Census: 01, 11

George William Linekar 

George was born in 1881 in Hoylake, the youngest of nine children of Miles (1837-1918) and Jane Linekar (neé Barlow 1838-1890). His siblings were Anne Jane (1861); Eliza (1863); Mary Ellen (1865); Sarah Emily (1867) Rebekah (1870); Miles Joseph Barlow (1872); Frederick Arthur (1877) and Harriet (1879). Miles Linekar’s parents were Thomas (1797-1880 and Nancy Linekar (nee Bird 1798-1864). Jane Barlow’s parents were Joseph (1809-1864) and Jane Barlow (neé Beck (1814-1888). All were long standing families in the Hoylake and Meols areas, although the Becks had originated in Kendal, Westmorland a generation earlier.

George’s grandfather Thomas Linekar had a brother Robert who was an ancestor of both Francis Rubenstein Linekar and his cousin Francis Lancelot Farnall, both of whom were also killed during the Great War and who are mentioned in this post.

In 1891 the family were living at Thomas Road, Little Meols. Thomas Road now forms part of the lower end of Cable Road, Hoylake. Miles Linekar was a joiner aged 53 and was a widower, his wife, Jane, having died the previous year. His children still at home were Anne age 29; Rebekah age 21; Miles (junior) age 18 who was also a joiner; Harriet age 14 and George age 9 who was still in school. The family remained at that address until at least 1911, but by 1901 it was known as 11 Cable Road, Hoylake. Miles was still the head of the household in 1901 but by 1911, his daughter Anne was head. In both the 1901 and 1911 Census George was shown as also being a joiner.

Royal Engineers' Cap Badge from the Great War

Royal Engineers’ Cap Badge from the Great War

Sadly no service records remain for George, but he enlisted at Birkenhead into the Royal Engineers in 1915. After initial training, he was involved in the east coast defences until January 1917 when he transferred to the 1st/9th King’s (Liverpool Regiment) which came under the orders of the 165th Brigade of the 55th West Lancashire Division, and was posted to France.

King's Liverpool Regiment Cap Badge in Use 1898-1927

King’s Liverpool Regiment Cap Badge in Use 1898-1927

The first half of 1917 was relatively quiet, however, late July saw increased action when the Division was involved in the Battle of Pilckem Ridge in the Salient which was part of the third Battle of Ypres. George escaped this battle unscathed but the Division saw some heavy losses with 168 officers and 3,384 men being either killed, wounded or missing.

Between the 20th and 23rd September, they was involved in the battle of Menin Road Ridge which again saw heavy losses with 127 officers and 2,603 men, but were successful in the fight for Gallipoli, Schuler Farm and the Hanebeek.

As part of a phase of the Cambrai Operations, the Division were involved in the tank attack and the German counter attack of 30th November 1917 saw the front line defences crumble allowing the enemy to have a rapid advance. Sadly, George fell in this attack.

George William Linekar's Medal Card

George William Linekar’s Medal Card

The Monumental Inscriptions for Holy Trinity churchyard has the following entry for what must be a worn headstone:

UNKNOWN – Ornate Curved Sandstone Headstone                                  

In loving memory of/Jane————–/who died—————-/also Miles, her husband/who died

20th July——-aged 39 [sic] years/and their child/Sarah Emily/who died 14th Jan 1870 age 2½ years/and Fredrick Arthur/who died 7th April 1881 aged 3½ years/and/George William 1/9th KLR/killed in action in France/2nd Dec 1917,aged 36 years/ 

“thy will be done” 

Birth: 1881 in Hoylake
Death:  2nd December 1917 killed in action age 36
Address:  Thomas Road, Little Meols (91); 11 Cable Road, Hoylake (01-11)
Occupation:  House Joiner
Unit:  1st/9th Bn. King’s (Liverpool Regiment), formerly Royal Engineers
Number and Rank: Private 350060, formerly 1012
Medals:  British, Victory
Commemorated and Buried:  GH, H, France: Somme, Villers-Faucon Communal Cemetery 1 C 7
Sources:  CWGC, SDGW, MC, BN, DA, Census: 91, 01, 11


2 thoughts on “Joshua Davies, Francis Lancelot Farnell, Francis Rubenstein Linekar and George William Linekar

  1. Excellent work on Francis Rubenstein Linekar – well done. I am researching the men and women of Abergele, North Wales, during the Great war and I have come across Frank (as he was known). However, all I can really add to your detailed account is that he attended Abergele County School and that he is also commemorated on the Colwyn Bay War Memorial.

  2. Thank you for that Andrew. We wish you well for your research into Abergele in the Great War

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