Heroes and Medals

Registered Charity No: 263374  -  Founded in 1970

Clevedon History Postcard Corner Collectors' Lot Village Pump Clevedon at War Heroes and Medals


During the four year run of the Society’s own magazine, The Clevedonian, the chairman of the Local History Group, Rob Campbell, researched and wrote a series of articles detailing the exploits of several local men.

As a keen collector of medals, Rob also included a photograph of the medals each hero had won.

Medal of the Society for the Protection of Life from Fire


The medal was awarded to Constable William John Brooks for his actions on the 19 December 1932 in Bristol.

Born on the 8th June 1901 in Highbridge, Somerset, William Brooks joined the Bristol Police in 1924 and was pensioned in 1954. During his service he was commended 6 times and reprimanded 7 times. He sat the Sergeant’s examination on 6 occasions and failed each time. His other medals are the Defence medal and the LSGC medal, which sadly I do not have. He also had the RLSS medallion and bar.

He made front page news in the local press but the following account which appeared in the Bristol Evening World is the most precise.

HEROIC RESCUE BY BRISTOL CONSTABLE

The award was made in recognition of the heroic rescue of an aged man from the top room of a house in Oxford Street, Totterdown, on December 19.

Brooks was walking along St. John’s Lane, when he saw smoke and flames raising from the house. He found the upper storey alight, and sent a boy to telephone the brigade.

Brooks heard a woman shout, “Save him: my father is in there,” and pulled himself up by the ledges of the windows until he reached the bedroom where the fire was raging.

He entered the room, which was full of smoke and flames, and groped about for the man. He was nearly overcome and had to go to the window for air.



He returned and found Mr. George Mockridge, aged 72, the occupier unconscious on the floor.

Brooks found a pair of trousers which he wrapped around the man’s waist, and then with his belt he lowered him to the ground.

The lower portion of the premises were destroyed by fire while Brooks was performing his heroic action.

The Lord Mayor, before pinning the medal on Constable Brooks’s tunic, said “I am performing this duty in the name of the citizens of Bristol. We are proud of you and also of the police force as a whole. Bristol is wonderfully served by its police.”

“You saved a man from certain death.”

“The physical fitness of the police force of today enables its members under stress of circumstances to rise to the occasion, and at the call of emergency are willing to risk their lives to save others.”

Alfred Bond Trestrail

Alfred Bond Trestrail was born on 5 February 1849 at Mitcham Common, Surrey, and was educated at Mill Hill and Amersham Hall Schools. Later he attended the Royal College of Chemistry and the Royal School of Mines. By 1885 Trestrail was a resident of Clevedon, living in Albert Road, and was gazetted as a Lieutenant in the 1st Gloucestershire Volunteer Artillery.

He joined the No. 9 Battery, 1st Gloucestershire (Gloucester & Somerset) Artillery Volunteer Corps in Clevedon, which had been raised in 1860 by Sir Arthur Hallam Elton of Clevedon Court; the unit was also known as the 1st Somerset or Clevedon Artillery Volunteers. They manned two 64 pounder guns mounted on Wain’s Hill and from there used to shoot at a target moored in the bay. Their Drill Hall, built in 1863, was in Albert Road, only a few minutes’ walk from the Trestrail residence.

Nearby was a carbine range. In 1883 the command of the unit was taken over by Captain Sir Edmund Harry Elton, Bart. On 27 November 1891 Trestrail was gazetted Captain and officially took over command of No. 9 Battery. In 1900 he was made Hon. Major and on the 12 September 1905 received the Volunteer Decoration.

As well as in his business and military duties Major Trestrail was a very active man in public life. He was a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a member of the Geological Association, the Hon. Secretary of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Clevedon District), a member of the Clevedon District Council, Vice President of the Weston-super-Mare Division of the Liberal Association and a Justice of the Peace. At an age when many men retire he became Commandant of the Clevedon Ladies Voluntary Aid Detachment and served throughout the Great War as Commandant of the V.A.D Red Cross Hospital, Oakland’s, here in Clevedon. It was for these later services that he was created a Member of the British Empire in the New Year Honours of 1919.

MBE Decoration

Volunteer Decoration

Sergeant Major William Hood

Royal Garrison Artillery & 9th Clevedon Company

1st Gloucestershire Artillery Volunteers

Born in Woolwich in 1862 he joined the Army as a Boy Trumpeter in 1877, and rose steadily through the ranks reaching Company SM in 1893 on his transfer as

Drill Instructor to the Clevedon Artillery Volunteers. It is interesting to note that he qualified as Battery Schoolmaster in May 1884 — a man of many talents. Much of his service was in India and he was on active duty in Burma during the period 1885-89 thus gaining his Indian General Service Medal with 2 bars.

His Long Service Medal was awarded in 1896 while he was in Clevedon; a special parade was held and he received his medal from Captain AC Currie the Brigade Adjutant.

His Meritorious Service Medal was awarded in 1929 with annuity. He was discharged in 1906 having served a total of over 29 years, his intended place of residence being Clevedon.

In1897 Hood had been living in 96 Old Church Road and in 1906 he lived at 6 Hillside Road.

A popular man in the town he was appointed steward of the Constitutional Club in May 1909. It is not known when he left the town, but he did return to his home town London where he died in Tooting Beck Hospital March 1948 aged eighty six.


His Long Service Medal was awarded in 1896 while he was in Clevedon; a special parade was held and he received his medal from Captain AC Currie the Brigade Adjutant.

His Meritorious Service Medal was awarded in 1929 with annuity. He was discharged in 1906 having served a total of over 29 years, his intended place of residence being Clevedon.

In1897 Hood had been living in 96 Old Church Road and in 1906 he lived at 6 Hillside Road.

A popular man in the town he was appointed steward of the Constitutional Club in May 1909. It is not known when he left the town, but he did return to his home town London where he died in Tooting Beck Hospital March 1948 aged eighty six.


Indian General

Service Medal

Long Service

& Good

Conduct Medal

Meritorious

Service Medal

Sergeant Arthur Martin MM

20th Canadian Infantry

Arthur was born in Clevedon in 1885. In the early 1900s along with many other Clevedonians he took advantage of the Canadian Pacific’s recruiting drive and moved to Canada. Railway work was not his forte and so he joined the Mounted Police.

When war was declared in 1914 he immediately joined the army. His time in France was nothing short of terrible as he was severely wounded on two occasions and also badly gassed. He was awarded the Military Medal for bravery during an attack on enemy trenches 15-19 August 1917.

On 15 August, Arthur Martin pushed out into No-Man’s Land, got himself into a good sniping position and accounted for 14 of the enemy, adding a further 3 to his tally in the evening. This was during the famous Canadian battle for Hill 70.

The second gunshot wound that he received in August 1918 resulted in his being casualty evacuated back to the UK where, at Woodcote Park Hospital, Richmond, he was looked after by Ellen Thacker, a Forewoman in the Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps.

It is interesting to note that Ellen was awarded the Medal of the OBE for her services in 1920. She became his wife and in the early 1930s they moved into “Oxney”, Old Church Road, Clevedon, which is the second of the two houses after Tennyson Avenue. The house was renamed “Woodcote” in their memory and it is still known as that today. Arthur received a pension from the Canadian government because of his wounds and he died as a result of them in 1935. The Canadians then awarded his family with the Memorial Cross.


Military

Medal

1914-15

Star

British War

Medal

Victory

Medal

Canadian

Memorial Cross



With the sad demise of the Clevedon Mercury, Rob thought it would be interesting to publish accounts of one of its former editors, William Frederick Sercombe, who was a journalist on the paper prior to enlisting at the start of the First World War. At that time his father was the editor. William wrote many letters home and his father published a number of them. In our next newsletter we will publish a copy of his letter relating to the terrible carnage that was the First Day of the Battle of the Somme. This time we see his medal group and the report that appeared in the edition of the Clevedon Mercury dated 15 June 1918.


Staff Sergeant William Frederick Sercombe

Army Service Corps

1914-15

Star

British War

Medal

Victory Medal

+ MID emblem

Meritorious

 Service Medal

King’s Birthday Honour for Clevedonian

With the sad demise of the Clevedon Mercury, Rob thought it would be interesting to publish accounts of one of its former editors, William Frederick Sercombe, who was a journalist on the paper prior to enlisting at the start of the First World War. At that time his father was the editor. William wrote many letters home and his father published a number of them. In our next newsletter we will publish a copy of his letter relating to the terrible carnage that was the First Day of the Battle of the Somme. This time we see his medal group and the report that appeared in the edition of the Clevedon Mercury dated 15 June 1918.


King’s Birthday Honour for Clevedonian

We note in the Western Daily Press of Saturday last that the King has been pleased, on the occasion of his Majesty’s birthday, to give orders for the following award, for valuable services rendered in connection with military operations in Italy.

Meritorious Service Medal S/Sgt W F Sercombe

This is the second honour conferred upon Sergeant Sercombe during the war, he having been mentioned in Despatches in the New Year’s Honours List 1917. From a patriotic sense of duty to his King and Country, with two other Clevedonian boys, one of whom has unfortunately been killed in action and the other is home from Italy for the purpose of taking a commission, he joined the army voluntarily in September 1914, following the outbreak of war the previous month, he enlisted in the 6th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment (the Old Brags), in which he soon rose to the rank of Corporal.

He proceeded with the Battalion to France at Easter 1915, and it was whilst serving in that country that he was promoted by the military authorities from Corporal to Staff Sergeant in the ASC, in which capacity he was posted to the Headquarters Staff of the …… Division, about Christmas last year, that Division (we are prohibited by D O R A, the Censor, from publishing the number of the Division) was ordered to the Italian Front, where he has since been serving.

Previous to joining up Sergeant Sercombe was a member of the literary staff of the “Clevedon Mercury”. His short but vivid pen pictures of devastated parts of France & Belgium, and later of Italian mountains scenery which have appeared in our columns from time to time, have been read with considerable interest by the majority of townspeople, who will unite with us in congratulating the young soldier - journalist upon his good luck in receiving such a single mark of Royal favour as the further distinction above referred to, and more especially so on the fact of the award being made to a Clevedonian and upon such an auspicious occasion as the King’s Birthday.

We are informed, on the authority of a retired NCO that the MSM, which is looked upon by old soldiers of the regular army as their DSO, carries with it an annuity of £10 a year. That being so, his Majesty’s gracious gift to Sergeant Sercombe is all the more valuable on that account.

There were 14 recipients of a similar honour from the Bristol and the adjoining counties of Somersetshire and Gloucestershire, including Lance Corporal H C Dart Gloucestershire Regiment from Weston- Super- Mare.




In our last edition we published an account of Clevedon Mercury journalist, William Frederick Sercombe, who had enlisted at the start of the First World War. At that time his father was the Mercury’s editor. William wrote many letters home and his father published a number of them.

CLEVEDON MERCURY & COURIER &

SOMERSETSHIRE WEEKLY ADVERTISER

15 JULY 1916 PAGE 3

THE BRITISH BOMBARDMENT


This is the first opportunity I have had of replying to your letter. We arrived back last night after having a few days up in the zone which witnessed some of the heaviest fighting of the recent operation, you will have read all the details by this time. Soon after my arrival back from leave matters began to get rather lively, the Bosches even becoming so unfriendly as to shell the place we were in on several occasions. As you will have read, the attack was preceded by a bombardment extending over several days, such as there has never been on this front before, and it reached a climax on the morning when those of us who were detailed to go up to an advanced post moved forward to our positions.

I only wish I had the time and ability to describe the scene, but that is impossible. With the exception of a small portion who fought with great gallantry and distinction, the whole of our crowd was held in reserve and did not take any actual part in the “show”, but things were lively enough where we were. Our guns were all about and behind us, and when they opened up the din was indescribable. Naturally the Bosch were throwing a few back by way of acknowledgment but they did us no harm, although I must admit that one night when I moved further forward I did feel rather uncomfortable!

Corporal William Frederick Sercombe 6th Gloucestershire Regiment, in a letter to his parents dated Tuesday 4th July and received here on Monday evening last says in reference to the great “push” on the Western Front which commenced on the 1 July 1916.

On that occasion I met an officer, who was at Clevedon with the last lot you had there, and was one of three officers who came through in his crowd, which speaks for itself. It was all very interesting and exciting, and I would not have missed it for anything, but there is another side of the picture, a side one does not like to dwell upon, the sight of the wounded who all through the day were drifting back past us to the field ambulances, some in ambulances, others in returning ammunition limbers, and those who were able to do so on foot. It was rather an awful sight and brought home to one the horrors of war, and yet at the same time it was a very stirring sight to see the brave and stolid way in which these heroes bore themselves in such a trying ordeal.

As I said before, we are back again now, and I am sorry to get the chance of a decent sleep, which was out of the question in the place we have just left, where it was a case of “carrying on through day and night”.

It has been something of an experience the kind of experience that makes one so proud of the fact that one is a Britisher. My only regret is that there were no shirkers or conscientious objectors there to witness it.

Certified true copy from Clevedon Mercury Newspaper.


Note:

The 4th & 6th Gloucestershire Regiment (144th Brigade) 48th South Midland Division were in V111th Corps reserve in the Hebuterne sector, and did not attack the enemy until the Battle of Bazentin Ridge, which opened on the 14th July 1916.


Lieutenant Frederick King Laverton

Royal Flying Corps ex Gloucester Regiment



22 December 1917, Page 3

FLYING OFFICER KILLED

Yesterday (Thursday) an inquest was held concerning the death of Lieutenant F. King Laverton of the Gloucestershire Regiment and attached to the Royal Flying Corps. He was about to fly somewhere in Kent but developed engine trouble before he left the ground.

A second machine, the pilot of which could not see the deceased, then came along and collided with the other machine. The deceased sustained injuries from which he died in hospital.

The usual verdict was returned.


Western Daily Press

24 December 1917, Page 5

FATAL ACCIDENT TO GLOUCESTER FLYING OFFICER

Lieutenant Frederick King Laverton, eldest son of Mr. F.W.K. Laverton, The Chestnuts, Longlevens and late of Oxstalls End, Churchdown, succumbed to injuries received in a flying accident in Kent.

The deceased officer, who was educated at Brymelyn School, Weston super Mare, and for a short time at Cheltenham College, joined the Army in 1916, at the age of 17.

Folkestone Express



Clevedon Mercury & Courier


29 December 1917, Page 3

CLEVEDON FLYING OFFICER’S DEATH

Lieutenant Frederick King Laverton, eldest son of Mr. FWK Laverton of “Lithgow” Victoria Road, Clevedon died as a result of a flying accident in Kent.

Educated at Brynmelyn School Weston super Mare and for a short time at Cheltenham College, the young officer joined the army at the age of 17 and in 1916 he served for a short time in France attached to the Fusiliers and the Royal Flying Corps on September 1st 1916 and obtained his flying certificate very soon afterwards and in October was awarded his wings.

He was qualified in photography, wireless and aerial gunnery, and had been flying at various aerodromes around the country. Beautiful wreaths and letters of sympathy have been sent by his fellow officers, NCO’s and men, by whom he was highly respected and loved.

Writing to Mrs. Laverton, Lieutenant Colonel C. Cooper of the RFC says; I feel I must write to you to say how grieved I was to hear about the accident to your son, and to offer you my sincerest sympathy. He was a personal friend of mine. We were pupils together last year, and only recently I specially applied for him to be allowed to join me in Scotland. He was one of my best pilots, and you may be glad to know.




Gloucester Chronicle


29 December 1917, Page 7

FATAL ACCIDENT TO

GLOUCESTER FLYING OFFICER DEATH OF LIEUT. F.K.LAVERTON

Lieut. F.K.Laverton eldest son of Mr. F.W.K.Laverton, the Chestnuts, Lonlevens and late of Oxstalls End, Churchtown, succumbed to injuries received in a flying accident on Tuesday last in Kent. The deceased officer, who was educated at Brymeln School, Weston-super-Mare, and for a short time at Cheltenham College, joined the Army in 1916, at the age of 17 years, and served for a short time on the Somme. Later, he returned to England to join the Royal Flying Corps and was accepted on 1st September.

By the middle of September he had obtained his flying certificate and in October he was awarded his wings. Since then he has been at various aerodromes in the country, being qualified in photography, wireless and aerial gunnery.

The funeral of the deceased officer took place at Barnwood on Monday afternoon.

The deceased officer was accorded a semi-military funeral, the coffin being draped with a Union Jack, and a firing party, composed of men of the Royal Flying Corps, under Sergeant Major Blake preceded the cortege.

The vicar (Rev. F.H.Fowler) conducted the service in the church, which was choral, the hymns sung, ‘For ever with the Lord’ and ‘Rock of Ages’. The organist played ‘O rest in the Lord’ (Mendelssohn). Few but the immediate relatives of the deceased were present, but the service was an impressive one. After the body had been lowered into an evergreen lined grave, three volleys were fired and ‘Last Post’ was sounded. Acting Officer J.Peart and Sergt.T.Underwood (Sir Thomas Rich’s School Cadet Corps) being the buglers.

Four R.F.C. officers accompanied the firing party and walked on either side of the coffin. The mourners were Mr. & Mrs.F.W.K.Laverton (Father and Mother); Miss Angus (Cheltenham), Fiancée; Mrs. Angus; Mrs. Slim and Miss Slim; Lieut. J.R.Orrell (School Aerial Gunnery, R.F.C.); Mr. & Mrs. Godwin Chance, Mr., Mrs., and Miss D.T. and Mr. Norris. Beautiful floral tributes were sent by Mum, Dad, Ivy and Penelope; Lieut-Col Cooper (Officer Commanding School of Aerial Gunnery); Lieut. Leffler, R.F.C.; the Officers (School of Aerial Gunnery); NCOs and men (School of Aerial Gunnery); Betty, Sheila and Mabel; Mrs. James Angus and Jean, Miss Angus; and a bunch of chrysanthemums tied in R.F.C. colours, a token of respect from a school chum and fellow officer, Eric G. Chance, Lieut.; R.F.C. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs. Blinkhorn and Son.

Captain Robert (Bob) Wilyman

52nd Royal Tank Regiment



Civic Society member Joy Wilyman’s late husband, Captain Robert Wilyman, saw action in the Battle of El Alamein during the 2nd World War. Seventy years on, Joy was proud to represent him at an anniversary service in Westminster Abbey last year.

Bob Wilyman joined the 23rd London Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment, a Territorial Army infantry battalion, in 1939. This became part of the 42nd Royal Tank Regiment soon after. In 1942 he saw action at the battle of El Alamein, a

fourteen day tank battle in the Western Desert of North Africa, under the leadership of General Montgomery. Exactly seventy years later, on Saturday 27 October 2012, Bob’s widow, Joy Wilyman, was invited to attend an Evensong Service of Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey to remember the 4,000 Allied servicemen who lost their lives and the almost 9,000 who were wounded during the battle. During the service two wreaths were laid at the grave of the Unknown Warrior. The first was on behalf of the Duchess of Cornwall whose father Major Bruce Shand had served with the 12th Lancers at El Alamein and the second was laid on behalf of the Armed Forces.

Recalling the importance of the Allied victory at the Battle of El Alamein, Sir Winston Churchill wrote: ‘Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat’. He famously described the battle as the end of the beginning of the Second World War. Captain Robert (Bob) Wilyman later transferred to the 52nd Royal Tank Training Regiment at Bovington, Dorset and was released from service on the 15th May 1946.


Private Arthur Bryan

By Bryan Osborne



Civic Society member Bryan Osborne’s uncle, 1965 Private Arthur Bryan, enlisted with the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Yeomanry in 1912 at the age of 19 years whilst apprenticed as a motor engineer. This was a Territorial Regiment and on the outbreak of war in August 1914 it was mobilised.

Private Bryan volunteered for Imperial Service, joined the 1st Battalion which was posted initially to Bury St Edmunds for overseas training and sailed, not for France, but for Egypt on 15th April 1915.

The RGH were sent to Gallipoli in August, landing unopposed at Suvla Bay to fight as infantry, their horses having been left behind in Egypt. The Battalion were involved in fierce fighting against the Turks and were eventually evacuated to return to Egypt in December to re-join their mounts. But their losses were so severe, due not only to battle casualties but also from disease and sickness, that only 81 officers and other ranks made the journey, out of more than 400 who had landed six months before.

He rejoined the Cavalry in the Imperial Mounted Division in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign against the Ottoman Army and was awarded the Serbian Gold Medal for "Conspicuous Gallantry and Bravery" in April 1916.

At this time he transferred to the Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry) with a new number - 110828 - and was promoted to Corporal. He is credited with inventing a self-feeding magazine for the Vickers Machine Gun for use as an anti-aircraft weapon against enemy aeroplanes, thus avoiding the need for a second gunner to feed the belt of ammunition into the breach.Alexandria (Hydra) War Cemetery



Corporal Bryan was severely wounded on 5th November 1917 during the Battle for Beersheba, when he was hit by a bullet in the back. He was evacuated to hospital in Alexandria and died of his wounds on 19th November. He is buried in Alexandria (Hydra) War Cemetery. An Uncle I never met, but whom I feel I now know.


Colour Sergeant John Pitt (Gamlin)

Regiment of Foot & 4th Herefordshire Volunteers

John, born in Clevedon in 1835, attested for army service in Bristol in 1855.Promotion was extremely rapid as he was appointed Colour Sergeant within 4 years. He saw service in Malta, Turkey and the Crimea before being posted to India during the Indian Mutiny. This overseas service took its toll and he was medically discharged in 1861 due to pulmonary disease. Only a year earlier on the 20 August 1860 he was married to Eliza Durbin in St Andrews Church, Clevedon.

On his discharge from the regular army he was appointed Drill Sergeant to the Bromyard Volunteer Rifle Corps, later D Company, Herefordshire Rifle Volunteers. He served with them and had a very good reputation amongstboth his officers and men until his premature death on the 23 March 1869 due to his military service. For reasons yet to be confirmed he added Gamlin (Gamlen) to his surname post 1860. Whilst with the Bromyard Volunteers he became an active member of the Odd Fellows.



Hereford Times:

12 October 1861

Bromyard

Grand Volunteer

Demonstration

Bromyard or 4th Herefordshire

Volunteers

1st Prize 300 yards Standing, & 500

& 600 yards kneeling

Sergeant John Pitt: Total 9 points

placing him 3rd.


Worcester Journal:

27 March 1869

Death Notice

Gamlin, March 23rd at

Bromyard, in his 33rd year,

Sergeant John Pitt Gamlen,

drill instructor to the Rifle

Corps and late of the 23rd

Welsh Fusiliers



Worcester Chronicle:

3 April 1869

Bromyard

The late Sergeant Gamlin – The remains of Sergeant John Pitt Gamlin (Sergeant & drill-instructor of the Rifle Corps) were interred on Sunday in the parish churchyard, with full military honours.

There was a good muster of the corps, as well as of the Odd Fellows, of which the deceased was a member.

There was a heavy fall of snow during the funeral, but despite the inclement weather the churchyard was thronged with people to witness the funeral. The service was read by the Reverend Nash Stephenson, after which the Odd Fellows funeral oration was read by Mr Charles Hinksman.


Worcester Chronicle:

31 March 1869

Death Notice

March 24ᵗʰ at Bromyard, after a

long illness, aged 33, Mr John

Pitt Gamlen, drill instructor of

the Bromyard Rifle Corps and

formerly sergeant of the 23ʳᵈ

Regiment of Foot.

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