ALBERT AND GEORGE PROBERT
This post was written by Victoria Doran.
Two brothers brought up in Hoylake and West Kirby, whose family had moved to Liverpool after 1911, but who were still remembered locally, died in the war.
Market Street, Hoylake as Albert and George would have known it – courtesy of Sue Jackson
Albert and George Probert were sons of Evan John Probert (1859-1924) and Emily Anne Haines (1860-1929). They had an older brother and 4 sisters. A brother and sister also died in infancy.
Evan Probert was born in Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan, Wales and at the time of his marriage at Huntspill, Somerset on 12 October 1880 was in the Royal Marines. Emily was illiterate, and Evan’s literacy was weak.
Evan John Probert & Emily Anne Haines marriage
The Haines family had lived in Huntspill (near Bridgwater) for several generations, working as agricultural labourers. A few months later, at the 1881 census, Emily was living in the East Stonehouse area of Plymouth, Devon and was 6 months pregnant with their first child, Evan John Probert (1881-1957). Evan was at sea. From then on, Emily became used to moving around the country. The eldest daughter, Alice Maude (1883-???) was born at Highbridge on the coast of Somerset; Matilda Jane (1884-1972) was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire; Evelyn Beatrice (1886-1975) was born Bridgwater, Somerset; Gertrude (1890-1891) was born and died in Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales. Up to this point, Evan seems to have been a sailor, but in Cardiff he was a labourer. Emily must have had a very difficult and lonely decade, always in new places without friends and relatives, a growing very young family and a husband away at sea most of the time.
The next move was to Liverpool by 1892, where Albert was born. By October 1893 they had moved to north west Wirral as a second Gertrude (1893-1923) was born in West Kirby. From this point on the family remained in the West Kirby and Hoylake areas (changing address frequently) until they moved back to Liverpool sometime between April 1911 and November 1913. Evan went back to sea, as a ship’s carpenter. He died in strange circumstances in 1924 whilst on a ship tied up in dock at Nuevitas, Cuba. Apparently he fell down the hold and suffered internal bleeding.
Emily remained in Liverpool until her death in 1929.
Matilda Jane married Henry Stanley (1882-1957) of the family from Carr Farm, Saughall Massie. Evelyn Beatrice married a Frederick Hazlehurst, who doubtless also had local origins.
Evan John Probert worked as a carter and does not seem to have been directly involved in the war.
ALBERT EDWARD VICTOR WILLIAM PROBERT
We only know of Albert’s death from this snippet from the Deeside Advertiser, a couple of months after his death.
Deeside Advertiser 15 February 1918
Albert was born in the summer of 1892 in Liverpool, but moved to Wirral before he was 18 months old. In 1901 he was living with his family at Grove Place, Hoylake. On 7 Dec 1909 the family were living at Nursery Cottage, West Kirby when Albert enlisted in the 4th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment for 3 years service as a Territorial. He attended 2 camps in Aberystwyth and one in Carnarvon during his service, but did not re-enlist. He gave his occupation as ‘dock labourer’.
On 1 December 1913, Albert was living at 50 Cecil Street, Wavertree and working as a labourer, when he married Mary Ellen McKeagh (1889-1967). Mary was born in Liverpool to a family with Irish and Welsh origins. Her father, George Alexander McGeagh (1863-1952) worked as a carter, and the large family cannot have been well off.
It is not known when Albert joined the army, but he did not serve overseas until after 1915. They had a daughter Beatrice (1914-1932) and a son Albert (1917-???). Albert’s birth was registered in the last quarter of 1917, so Albert himself must either have had leave around the turn of 1916/17 or not have gone overseas until after that date.
Royal Field Artillery cap badge
He was Gunner 681665 in ‘A’ Company, 286 Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery. 286 Brigade was originally known as the 2/2nd West Lancs Brigade, and was a second line division. It only arrived in France in the middle of February 1917. Possibly Albert went with them then. The Brigade fought in the British Flanders Offensive from 7 June to 10 November 1917, known as the 3rd Battle of Ypres. The last part of this Offensive was the Battle of Passchendaele. Albert died on 10 December 1917 after this battle was over. He was 25 years old and left a wife and 2 very small children.
He is buried at Canada Farm Cemetery north west of Ypres.
Canada Farm cemetery
His sister Gertrude (1893-1923) married a Finnish seaman, Frans (Frank) Selander in 1920. In 1925 Albert’s widow, Mary Ellen married widower Frank. Frank died at sea of pneumonia in 1934 and in 1943 Mary Ellen was married yet again to Torsten Andreasson, probably another Scandinavian sailor. She does not seem to have had any further children.
Birth: Jul 1892 in Liverpool
Death: 10 Dec 1917; near Ypres, Belgium; killed in action
Addresses: Nursery Cottage, West Kirby (09); Grove Place, Hoylake (01); 88 Market Street, Hoylake (11); 50 Cecil Street, Wavertree (13); 71 Melrose Road, Kirkdale (17)
Occupations: dock labourer; labourer
Unit: A/286 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery
Number and Rank: 681665; Gunner
Medal: British War, Victory
Commemorated and Buried: Canada Farm Cemetery, West Vlaanderen, Belgium; St Thomas, Wavertree, Liverpool
Sources: CWGC, MC, SR (Territorial service), DA, PR, SDGW, RSE, Census: 01, 11
FREDERICK GEORGE PROBERT
George was only discovered when investigating Albert’s immediate family. No newspaper record of his death has been found.
This census shows Frederick George as ‘F George’, so we can assume that he was known as George. Note that Evan Probert has not fully understood the instructions and has included all his children, whether they were actually at home or not.
George was born in West Kirby in the summer of 1896 and baptised at St Bridget on 5 July 1896. In 1901 he was at home at Grove Place, Hoylake and in 1911 he was still at school, living at 88 Market Street, Hoylake.
It is not known what he did when he left school, nor when he joined the army. He was probably conscripted.
He was Private 85949 in the 25th Battalion, King’s Liverpool Regiment.
King’s Liverpool Regiment cap badge
The 25th Battalion, King’s Liverpool Regiment did not serve overseas until 7 May 1918 when it landed at Calais to perform Garrison Guard duties. Probably George was with them then. On 16 June 1918 it became part of the 176th (2/1st Staffordshire) Brigade in the 59th Division. Exactly one month later it was fully incorporated in the Division and was no longer restricted to Garrison Guard duties, but became front line troops, moving to the River Lys area on 25 July.
They took part in the final advance in Artois and Flanders, including the Battle of Albert in August, part of the 2nd Battle of the Somme.
At some point George was wounded, and then transferred to hospital in Camberwell, London. He died there on 22 October 1918 aged just 22 years old. Another young man whose life never really started.
His body was taken back to Liverpool and is buried in Allerton Cemetery.
He is also commemorated on the Roll of Honour at St Thomas, Wavertree.
Birth: Jul 1896 in West Kirby
Death: 22 Oct 1918; in hospital in Camberwell, London; died of wounds
Addresses: Grove Place, Hoylake (01); 88 Market Street, Hoylake (11)
Occupation: not known
Unit: 25th Battalion, King’s Liverpool Regiment
Number and Rank: 85949 Private
Medal: British War, Victory
Commemorated and Buried: Allerton Cemetery, Liverpool; St Thomas, Wavertree, Liverpool
Sources: CWGC, MC, PR, SDGW, RSE, Census: 01, 11