Colin Albert Harragin and Katherine Harragin

COLIN ALBERT HARRAGIN AND KATHERINE HARRAGIN

A husband and wife who died in especially tragic circumstances when the SS Apapa was sunk off Anglesey by torpedoes, and who are commemorated in Holy Trinity churchyard in Hoylake. They had nearly reached Liverpool from West Africa.

SS Apapa from www.rcahmw.gov.uk.jpg

from www.rcahmw.gov.uk under Open Government Licence

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Edmund Evans

EDMUND EVANS      written by Linda Trim

Eighteen year old West Kirby lad dies in Flaubert, France within nine months of enlistment.

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Edmund Evans photograph

Edmund was the second of five children born to Abraham Evans (1866-1916) and Elizabeth Evans nee Box (1867-????). Elsie Victoria was born in 1897, Edmund in 1899, James Abraham in 1902, Florence Box in 1904 and Herbert Box in 1906.

Abraham and Elizabeth were married by banns in St. Bridget’s church on 25th October 1891. The first of their children with a recorded baptism was Elsie, but it is possible that there were other children prior to her that died before they were baptized, and since Evans is a very common name, it is hard to track down other possible births and deaths. It was certainly unusual for the times to not have children for six years. Abraham was a general labourer who is shown on the censuses as working for a time as a mason, which was his father’s occupation, and also as a carter. Elizabeth was from Malvern in Worcestershire, and met Abraham while working in service in West Kirby. In 1911 Edmund was still at school.

1911 Census.jpg

1911 Census

It is unknown what he did for a living when he went to work. His mother was adamant that he not sign up for military service, but by the time he turned 18 in the latter part of 1917, conscription was in force. Young men could expect to receive their papers a few weeks before their birthday and would have their medical assessment done so that as soon as possible after their birthday they could be conscripted and sent off for training. With the exception of his medal card and the document listing his soldier’s effects there are no military records existing for him. They were probably lost in the London bombing in WW2. Since Abraham, Edmund’s father had died in 1916, it is little wonder that his mother did not want Edmund to go to war. He may well have been the main breadwinner in the house and by the time he turned 18 his mother – and everyone else – would have been aware of the high number of deaths in the war. His sister, Elsie Victoria was in the Women’s Auxiliary Corp  and may have contributed to household expenses.

The King’s Liverpool Rifles (1/6th) became part of the 55th (West Lancashire) Division during the war, and were part of the campaign on the Western Front for the entirety of the war. The Spring offensive on the Somme started on 21 March 1918 and there were several battles fought subsequently, but none were in progress on May 18th when Edmund died. His body was not recovered so presumably he got caught out somewhere, perhaps no-man’s land. He died in Festubert, France and is memorialized at the Loos Memorial which is in Loos-en-Gohelle, Dept du Pas-de-Calais, Nord Pas-de-Calais, France. The Loos Memorial commemorates over 20,000 officers and men who have no known grave and who died in the area from the river Lys to the old southern boundary of the First Army, east and west of Grenay, from the 1st day of the battle of the Loos to the end of the war.

 

 Edmund Evans Book of Remembrance.JPG

Book of Remembrance

Loos Memorial.JPG

Loos Memorial

 

Notes;

Birth: 4th quarter 1899 at West Kirby
Death:  5 May 1918 at Festubert, Nord Pas de Calais, France
Addresses: Grange Road, West Kirby (01); 6, Darmonds Green, West Kirby (11)
Occupation: Unknown
Unit: King’s Liverpool 1/6th Rifles
Number and Rank: Private 90378
Medals: British & Victory
Commemorated: Grange Hill War Memorial West Kirby; United Reformed Church, West Kirby; Book of Remembrance
Sources: BR, CWGC, FT, GH, MC, PR, WK and thanks to Keith Hatton for providing us with information about Edmund, who is a relative of his.

 

 

 

Thomas Edwin West

THOMAS EDWIN WEST written by Linda Trim

West Kirby man who emigrated to Canada and enlisted in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force in order to fight in the Great War.

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Winnipeg Rifles Cap Badge

Thomas was born on the 4th of December 1887 in Southport, Lancashire, where the family was living at that time. He was the second of three children of Thomas Walter West (1860-????) and Lucy Elizabeth West nee Stacey (1863-1949). His siblings were Lucie Muriel West, known as Muriel (1886- ????), and Gladys West (1895-1967).  Given that his father and grandfather both had Thomas as a first name, he was probably known as Edwin in the family and I will call him that to differentiate him from his father, Thomas Walter West.

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Thomas Edwin West’s Baptismal record from St. Paul, Southport, Lancashire Dec 27 1887.

Thomas Walter West was born in Silverstone, Northamptonshire, in 1860, son of Thomas Henry West (1812-1878) and Catherine Whitlock (1821-1901). Thomas Henry had 8 children and Thomas Walter was the 6th child. He probably had a comfortable upbringing as his father was a Timber Merchant who also farmed 156 acres. Silverstone is in close proximity to Whittlewood Forest where there was a brisk timber industry going in the 19th century. At some point Thomas Walter moved north to Lancashire and met and married Lucy Elizabeth Stacey (1863-1949) at St. Mary’s, Walton on the Hill on 3rd September 1885. They lived for a while in Southport, but then came back to Liverpool. In 1891, according to the census, they had two children, Muriel and Thomas Edwin, and Thomas Walter was a wine merchant, with the family living in Bootle, Liverpool. Gladys was born in the Spring of 1895 and by 1901 the family had migrated to Banks Road in West Kirby,  where many families were relocating for more pleasant surroundings but with an easy commute to Liverpool. Thomas Walter was still a wine merchant at that time. Edwin attended Calday Grange Grammar School.

Some time early in the twentieth century, something happened to Thomas Walter West that changed the family dynamic. It is not possible at this time to ascertain what happened; possibly the wine business failed, or there were some severe financial problems in the family, but in 1905, Edwin emigrated to Canada to become a farmer. At the 1906 census he states that he emigrated in 1905, and he was living in Virden, Brandon, Manitoba. During the late 19th century the Dominion Lands act was passed. This enabled a person (male or female) to pay a registration fee of $10 to be allocated a 160 acre plot to farm. After 3 years of farming and a requirement of building a dwelling on the land,  the 160 acres would belong to the claimant. It may well be that this was what Edwin did.  He was only 18 years old when he left England. In 1911 there is no sign of Thomas Walter on any censuses. Lucy Elizabeth describes herself as married and head of household on the 1911 census, and says that she is a professional musician. Lucy Elizabeth lived at 3, South Road in West Kirby with Muriel, who was a governess, and Gladys who was still at school, so they are obviously working to support themselves. By 1914 Lucy Elizabeth had moved to 25, Dunraven Road, West Kirby.

In 1915 there is a record of Edwin returning from England after a visit. By then he had been in Virden for 9 years. What prompted him to return after the start of war is unknown, but he did not try and enlist in the Canadian Expeditionary Force until after his return to Virden.

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Passenger list for the Scandinavian, which was headed to St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada

The Scandinavian arrived on March 29th 1915, Edwin returned home and waited until the 6th December 1916 to join the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Forces in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He was 5’4″ tall, with a chest measurement of 33″ when fully expanded, and had dark brown hair, gray eyes and a medium complexion. His mother is shown as his next of kin. Edwin became Private 1084275 and on the 10th December 1916 he was attached to the 18th Canadian Reserve Battalion.

Poor Edwin contracted measles in February 1917 which  undoubtedly  would have been very unpleasant at his age. He was subsequently transferred to the 251st Battalion C.E.F and on the 23rd of April 1917 he made a will leaving his estate to his mother. He left Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the SS Matagama on the 4th October 1917 bound for Liverpool, arriving on the 17th October and  where on the 28th of the month he was transferred to the 8th Reserve Battalion. By the time of his transfer he was on St. Martin’s Plain, in Kent, which was a training camp, with many soldiers, including Edwin,  living in tents at nearby Dibgate Plain.

At the end of 1917, and also in 1918, Edwin sought medical treatment for dyspnoea (difficulty in breathing). Despite having X-rays and examinations by various doctors there was no good diagnosis to be had, but one doctor speculated that he might have TB.

Edwin went to France to fight with the C.E.F, as part of the 8th Reserve Battalion who were also known as the 90th Winnipeg Rifles, and fought at the battle of Cambrai in northern France, which took place from 27 September to 11 October  1918, and which was part of a series of connected battles at the start of the Hundred Days Campaign. Sadly, he was listed as Missing in Action on the 29th September 1918 and confirmed dead the following day. He is remembered on the Vimy Memorial in Vimy, France. This memorial was created to remember over 11,000 Canadian soldiers who died in the Great War and whose remains were never found. Over 91 hectares of land was given by the French to Canada, free, to be Canadian land in perpetuity, and construction of the massive work was started in 1925. On July 26 1936 King Edward VIII unveiled the monument.

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Vimy Memorial, Vimy, France

Neither of Edwin’s sisters ever married. In 1960 Muriel returned to England on the Carnarvon Castle which arrived 20 May 1960,  from Durban, South Africa. She was going to West Kirby to visit Gladys. Could this possibly have been where their father went after his “disappearance”? Lucy Elizabeth died in 1949 in Birkenhead, and Gladys lived on the Wirral until her death in 1967. Presumable Muriel died in South Africa where she lived.

 

TE West DA 1918.jpg

Deeside Advertiser 11-10-1918

Notes;

Birth: 4 Dec 1887 Southport, Lancashire, England
Death:  29 September 1918, Cambrai, France
Addresses: 1891 20 Ellerslie Road, West Derby, Lancashire; 1901 Banks Road ,West Kirby; 1906 Virden, Brandon, Manitoba, Canada; 1916 Stratton, Rainy river, Ontario, Canada.
Occupation: Farmer
Unit: 18th, 251st  and 8th Battalions Canadian Expeditionary Force
Number and Rank: Private 1084275
Medals:
Commemorated: St. Bridget’s, St Andrew’s, Grange Hill, Calday Grange Grammar School – all at West Kirby, Vimy Memorial, Canadian WW1 Memorial Book page 520
Sources: BR, CG, CWGC, DA, GH, PR, SR, WK, Census 1891, 1901, 1906, 1911