Not far from Odda’s Chapel and the river Severn which drifts sleepily past, lies the Priory Church of St Mary. Saxon history lies all about, the origins of English society.
Ernest Archibald Willis
In loving memory
Of Sydney Walter
Third son of
Charles and Eva Willis
Who died December 5th 1918
Aged 16 years
Second son of the above
Who was lost at the
Dardanelles August 10th 1915
Aged 19 years
Peace Perfect Peace
16993 Private Ernest Archibald Willis of the 9th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment was just 19 years of age when he was killed on the 11th August 1915. The son of Charles and Eva Willis of Deerhurst, he enlisted on the outbreak of war. He went to Deerhurst school and was involved in the Wesleyan church.
He is commemorated on the Helles Memorial to the missing of Gallipoli. There are 20,000 names on this memorial to the names of men from UK, Indian and Anzac forces who died on the peninsula or in the waters around Gallipoli. It lies on the tip of the peninsula overlooking the water.
In September 1915, news had reached home that Private B.W. Weston, 9th Worcesters who had enlisted with Ernest had been wounded on August 8th 1915 and was in hospital in Alexandria, Egypt recovering. Ernest had been reported as missing since August 11th 1915 with his parents hopeful of more information about the fate of their son.
In November 1916, Mr and Mrs Willis received confirmation from the war office that their son was dead, and that his death took place on August 11th 1915, or since. They had already been notified that Ernest was missing on that date.
His name is on the war memorial to the war dead of the Deerhurst area found on the green in front of Apperley Church, not far from Deerhurst itself.
His parents’ grave is not far away in Deerhurst churchyard.
The Apperley Wesleyan Chapel gave a religious picture to the Tewkesbury YMCA in memory of their two local preachers, William Crook and Ernest Willis who were killed in the war (France and Gallipoli respectively).
William Alexander Smith Bayliss
On the side of a white stone cross grave marker to Elias Bayliss is written a memorial:
Sgt W.A.S. Bayliss
Killed in action in France
July 5th 1917
Then Corporal W. A. S. Bayliss of C Squadron, Queen’s Own Oxford Hussars wrote to friends in late 1914:
We came out on September 20th and have had holiday mixed up with little hell, mud and such-like dainties ever since. So far I have been lucky, and no wound, but shall consider myself lucky to come out of it with only a wing or leg wound. We had three days of the hottest fight round Messines and Ypres, and I had one shell drop behind me 10 feet away and blew a hole 9 ft across and 6 ft deep; too near to be pleasant. Their artillery is very good, also their Maxims. I got promoted about a month ago for dressing wounds in the trenches as well as firing occasionally. We have had a holiday for a month and are now going back to higher ground about 20 miles.
Kent and Sussex Courier 15th January 1915 page 2
He went to school in Worksop, having been born in Apperley.
He was killed by shrapnel on the 6th July 1917. His death was confirmed in the casualty lists from the War Office by August 1917.
He arrived in France in September 1914. He was mentioned in despatches in May 1915. He was thought of highly by officers and men alike. He was a manger for Boots chemists. His mother lived in Abbey Terrace, Tewkesbury.
He is now buried at Templeux-le-Guerard British Cemetery, east of Peronne and south of Cambrai in France. But he was moved there from Sainte Emilie British Cemetery in 1930.
He is also remembered on the war memorial in Henley upon Thames in Oxfordshire and the Worksop College war memorial tablet in Nottinghamshire.
George Sainton Kaye Butterworth MC and Hugh Montagu Butterworth
If you should venture to the church itself at Deerhurst, which is in itself a place of much history and intrigue; you would have to push through the door. A solid door made of a light wood – oak, English maple or beech perhaps; with two windows carved into the top. This in itself is also a war memorial.
The main panel is inscribed with its message:
To the glory of God
Loving and grateful memory
George S. Kaye Butterworth
And his cousin
Hugh Montagu Butterworth
Who gave their lives for their country
France and Flanders
Grandsons of the Rev. George Butterworth
Vicar of this parish
1856 – 1893
Sir Alexander Kaye Butterworth placed a memorial to his son and his nephew on the priory church at Deerhurst. It recognises the loss of two men by a family; but the loss of two men with singular gifts lost to the world.
George Sainton Kaye Butterworth was an English composer; a great friend of Ralph Vaughan Williams and a talented musician, composer and scholar of folk music and dance. Hugh Montagu Butterworth was a first class cricketer, sportsman and teacher who left an undeniable impact on his students in New Zealand. These were men who had roles to play in the time that had yet to pass when the war took their lives, and their unknown futures were lost to us all.
Lieutenant George Sainton Kaye Butterworth was the son of Julia Wigan and Sir Alexander Kaye Butterworth, solicitor and general manager of the North Eastern Railway. His grandfather was Rev. George Butterworth who had been vicar at Deerhurst for the last half of the 19th century.
He was a renowned composer specifically works such as the now revered anthem to the ‘missing’ The Banks of Green Willow (1913) and music set to A. E. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad (1911). He enlisted into the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry as a Private with several of his friends. He quickly received a commission to become a Second Lieutenant in the 13th Battalion Durham Light Infantry, leading men into battle pulled from the coal mines of the north east.
George won the Military Cross for conspicuous bravery in action at Pozieres in July 1916. In an attempt to take Munster Alley in the thick of fighting against German forces desperate to hold it, George was shot in the head by a sniper. His men buried his body on the edge of a trench, but his remains were never discovered again after two more brutal years of fighting on the Somme. He was immortalised on the Memorial to the Missing on the Somme at Thiepval. He was 31 years of age; a life perhaps only half-lived.
He left his music and manuscripts to Vaughan Williams, on whose death his wife then donated them to the Bodleian Library in Oxford.
Hugh Montagu Butterworth, his cousin, enlisted on the outbreak of war. Captain Hugh Montagu Butterworth was the son of George Montagu Butterworth and Catherine Lucie Warde, of The Cashmeer Hill, Christchurch, New Zealand.
He was a master at Wanganui Collegiate School in New Zealand where he taught English and Latin; but he left his position as master at Wanganui on the outbreak of war. He left for Britain and arrived in early 1915 where he enlisted with the Rifle Brigade. He arrived in May 1915 on the Western Front.
Hugh’s end would come as part of the Battle of Loos but the diversionary tactics at Hooge in September 1915. On the 25th September 1915, the 9th Rifle Brigade led by Hugh went over the top to attack a series of trenches near Railway Wood on the Ypres salient. He never made it back. He along with many of his men were killed here; heavy machine gunfire were always going to make it a difficult passage.
In his last letter, written the evening before the attack, he enunciated better than most, that he felt the job ahead of him was written with a ‘one-way’ heading. But he would lead his men, and they would follow:
Anyway if I do go out I shall do so amidst such a scene of blood and iron as even this war has rarely witnessed. We are going to bombard for a week, explode a mine and then charge. One does see life doesn't one? Of course there is always a chance of only being wounded and the off-chance of pulling through. Of course one has been facing death pretty intimately for months now, but with this ahead, one must realise that, in the vernacular of New Zealand, one's numbers are probably up.
Letters from Flanders, Whitcombe and Tombs, Wellington, New Zealand (1916)
Hugh was killed in that attack, he was 29 when he was died in action serving with the 9th Battalion Rifle Brigade. He has no known grave and is listed on the memorial to the missing on the Ypres salient – the Menin Gate at Ypres. A cricket pavilion was named in his memory at Wanganui school.
Both cousins were lost to their families and to the world – their graves and bodies lost to history; their memories commemorated on the large monuments to the missing on the Somme in France and on the Ypres salient in Belgium.
There are two official war graves here in Deerhurst churchyard:
123047 Private Lewis Alfred Cox, 25th General Hospital, Royal Army Medical Corps who died 9th December 1917 from phthisis or tuberculosis. He was 37.
MS/732 Private George Chalk, Royal Army Service Corps who died 6th February 1919 from pneumonia. He was 25.
These are the men who never returned from the Great War whose memorials lie at Deerhurst in Gloucestershire:
Private Ernest Archibald Willis
DoB 1896 Deerhurst, Gloucestershire DoD 11th August 1915 Gallipoli aged 19
16993 9th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment
Commemorated: Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey
Serjeant William Alexander Smith Bayliss
DoB 1886 Apperley, Gloucestershire DoD 5th July 1917 France aged
285121 Queen’s Own Oxford Hussars
Buried: Templeux-le-Guerard British Cemetery, France
Lieutenant George Sainton Kaye Butterworth MC
DoB 1885 Paddington, London DoD 5th August 1916 age 31
13th Battalion Durham Light Infantry
Commemorated: Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, Somme, France
Captain Hugh Montagu Butterworth
DoB 1885 Saffron Walden, Essex DoD 25th September 1915 age 29
9th Batallion Rifle Brigade
Commemorated: Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium