The Extraordinary and the Everyday: A Year in the Life of a Rural Community, 1914-15 has followed the fortunes of the small Warwickshire community of Avon Dassett from the month that war broke out until August 1915.
The whole village was consumed by the war effort: hosting evacuated Belgian children; donating produce and money; curtailing leisure activities; volunteering as reservists or nurses; and of course, for the men, enlisting for active service. At the same time, ordinary life had to continue, and the Rural District Council battled with health, sanitation, roads and drainage issues.
The Lord of the Manor of Avon Dassett, William Holbech of the neighbouring Farnborough Hall was the first local fatality He rejoined his regiment in August, sailed to Belgium and was mortally injured in the first battle of Ypres, dying in London at the end of October 1914. Herbert Cooper was the first Avon Dassett man to lose his life. He was posted as missing presumed dead in May 1915 and his body was never found. In all, three local men died during the war.
No new information will be published on the blog but it will remain as an archive of a remarkable year in the life of the village.
Avon Dassett Local History Group would like to thank the sponsors of the project: the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Dassett Country Show and Avon Dassett Parish Council.
The project researchers were Jill Burgess, Mike Lewis, Margaret Maughan and Sarah Richardson.
End of Project Exhibition at the Dassett Country Show, August 1 2015
Private Cooper was born in Avon Dassett in 1892, the son of George Cooper. Prior to enlisting he was a groom.
He enlisted at Scarborough, aged 22, on 27th August 1914 in the Royal Warwickshire regiment and posted to the First Cavalry (G.S) on that date. He was with the British Expeditionary Force in France, based in Rouen. On 13th September 1917 he was transferred to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and posted to 16th Battalion on 24th September 1917.
He was admitted to a field hospital on 8th August 1918 suffering from ‘shellgas’. He was transferred to England on the “Cumbria”.
Gunner Checkley was born in Mollington. He was a groom before he enlisted.
He enlisted, aged 21, in the Royal Regiment of Artillery, Royal Field Artillery on 24th August 1914 at Rugby. He was transferred to ‘A’ Battery 49th Brigade on 9th January 1915.
He embarked at Marseille, Frances on 3rd November 1915 and disembarked at Alexandria, Egypt 11th November 1915. He embarked at Alexandria on 27th November 1915 and disembarked at Salonica on 10th December 1915 where he spent the duration of the war. He was struck off strength on 19th January 1919.
The Men of Avon Dassett who served during 1914- 1918 War
When war broke out in August 1914 the British Army numbered approximately 730,000 men. By the end of the war in 1918 more than 7 million men and women had been in service.
Unfortunately more than half of their service records were destroyed by a German bombing raid on the War Office in London in 1940.
Of the 31 men of Avon Dassett who enlisted only 12 have surviving service papers. From these documents , some of which are very badly damaged and hard to read, the information following has been extracted, giving us a brief glimpse into their world in 1914-18.
The loound at the beginning of the new minute book for the Parish of Avon Dassett commencing 11 April 1916.
ROLL OF HONOUR
COOPER, ALBERT (Herbert) (killed)
COOPER, THOMAS Sergeant RMC
COOPER, ARTHUR M Medal
GOLDER, SYDNEY ASC
CHECKLEY, BERNARD RFA
MASON, JOSEPH LIEUT RGA
WYTON, HARRY RVC
PIKE, RVC (Spike?)
WELD, THOMAS JOSPEH MC& Bar Capt. Lovat Scouts/KAR
The British First Army makes a successful attack between Richebourg l’Avoue and Festubert, breaking the German line over a two mile front and the following day make a further advance in the same region, capturing a large number of prisoners. The Germans evacuate the position they had occupied west of Yser Canal. While the German advance into Western Galicia had compelled the Russians to fall back to a new line on the San and evacuate the Carpathians the latter’s counterstroke in Eastern Galicia develops successfully and the Austrian army is reported to have retired precipitately beyond the Pruth, vigorously pursued.