The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is appealing for relatives of three Wooburn soldiers who will soon be commemorated by the organisation to contact them.
Sapper Charles Alexander John East, Private Frederick William Godfrey, and Driver James Morrell all died due to illness or injuries sustained during their active service in the First World War when back home in the parish of Wooburn. However, the CWGC were never informed of their deaths and therefore have not commemorated them as war dead.
Charles A J East was born in the early months of 1879, the youngest child of William and Eliza Ann East.
His father William was a Master Boat Builder and in 1881 the family were living at the ‘’East Boat House, Towing Path, Putney’’.
Ten years later William had changed profession to become the Landlord of the Coach & Horses Hotel in Richmond Road, Isleworth. Two of his sons, Arthur and William junior were ‘’professional scullers’’.
Charles married Eliza Goddard in the Spring of 1897 in Chelsea, and their first child Constance was born a few months later.
In 1901 Charles was working as a barman, probably in the Coach & Horses Hotel. The couple had two more children, Charles Reginald born in 1905 and Hilda Eileen born 1909. By 1911 the family were living at 2 Wharf Cottages, Richmond Rd in Isleworth and Charles was the Manager of a public house.
It is probable that Charles was combining the jobs of barman and then pub manager with boat-building, because in about 1913 he obtained employment as a ‘’Foreman Boatman’’ in Bourne End, living with his family at Ye Neuk, Ferry Lane, Bourne End.
He was working for the company of F.Turk, boat-builders in Cookham.
This must have been a prestigious appointment as the Turk family have been recorded as boatbuilders on the Thames as far back as 1195. Frederick Thomas Turk established Turk & Sons boatyard in Cookham in 1911. In the Great War he served in the Royal Engineers (Inland Waterways) and in 1922 he was appointed as the Royal Swan Master.
He held this position for over 40 years until he retired in 1963, when he was succeeded by his son John Turk. Cookham artist Stanley Spencer immortalised Turk in his paintings ‘The Boat Builder’ and ‘Turks Boatyard, Cookham’.
At the age of 38 Charles was called up into the Forces, enlisting at Maidenhead on March 13th 1916.
He was posted as a Sapper to the Inland Water Transport unit of the Royal Engineers, the same as his boss Frederick Turk. After a couple of months training in the UK he was sent to the Western Front, serving there until October 30 1917.
He was then returned to the UK and in December 1917 diagnosed with ‘’chronic bronchitis and emphysema’’, the latter being a long-term, progressive disease of the lungs.
He was discharged from the Royal Engineers in London on January 25 1918. At the time his record states that his military character was very good, and his conduct very satisfactory. He was judged to be 80% incapacitated, but able to carry out ‘light work of national importance’. He was granted a weekly pension of 27s.6d for 4 weeks, then reducing to 22s for a further 35 weeks.
Back home in Bourne End he managed to secure part-time employment in a factory making aircraft components. Charles died aged 40 on November 27, 1918. He was buried in the old cemetery at St Paul’s parish church.
Frederick William Godfrey was born in Torquay, Devon late in 1879, the son of William and Fanny Godfrey. His father was a plumber and by 1901 the family had moved to live in Maidenhead, at 39 Belmont Rise. Frederick had followed his father to become a plumber. In the Spring of 1905 he married local girl Florence Henrietta Rose at Eton. The couple went on to have three children, Ernest Frederick born in 1908, Margaret Emily in 1910, and finally Catherine Amelia in 1914. The family lived in a five-roomed dwelling in Boundary Road, Wooburn.
Frederick enlisted at Oxford on March 11 1916 and was posted to the Hampshire Regiment. He went to the Western Front from April 16 1917 and served in the trenches until August of that year, when he was ‘slightly wounded’ in the back by gunfire.
He was in hospital for two weeks and then suffered from shortness of breath and dizziness.
He was diagnosed with Valvular Disease of the Heart (VDH) resulting in ‘aortic insufficiency’ and discharged as unfit for military service on February 2 1918.
His discharge papers record his military character as very good and ‘sober, steady and hard working.’ His degree of disablement was judged to be 30% and he was awarded a weekly pension for 52 weeks.
He died on November 24 1918 aged 39 and is also buried in the old cemetery at St Paul’s parish church.
James Morrell was born in Taunton, Somerset, on November 12 1894. His family subsequently emigrated to Canada, living at 14 Elgin Street in Hamilton, Ontario. He worked as a Driver, joined the local Militia and then enlisted in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force on September 23 1914, not long after the start of the war. He was posted to the Canadian Army Medical Corps and set sail for Europe.
At that time Canada was the senior Dominion in the British Empire and automatically at war with Germany when Britain entered the war. Popular support for the war was mainly in English Canada. Of the first contingent formed at Valcartier, Quebec in 1914, ‘fully two-thirds were men born in the United Kingdom’. By the end of the war in 1918, at least ‘fifty per cent of the CEF consisted of British-born men’.
It has not been possible to find records of James’s subsequent military service in Europe but it is known that in the early months of 1917 he married May G Tirrell, their marriage being registered at High Wycombe. The couple had two sons, Kenneth J born in 1917 a few months after their marriage, and Roland D in the Spring of 1921. James died on July 8 1921, aged just 26.
All these men who are to be commemorated by the CWGC had children before they passed away, so it is likely that there are family descendants still around today. The CWGC would like to find these relatives, who may wish to know that their ancestors are to be commemorated and will receive a CWGC headstone in their honour.
It is known that the following children of these soldiers were still alive in 1939: Ernest, Margaret, and Catherine East who were living with their mother Florence (the widow of Charles A J East) in Slough, at 33 Saint Georges Crescent. Ernest was a motor mechanic; Margaret, who had married Clarence Simpson, a ‘rubber dipper’, was the ‘Officer in Charge of Post Office’; and Catherine was a dressmaker.
Kenneth J Morrell was living at 28 Benjamin Road in High Wycombe and was working as a Wood Machinist. He had married Violet S Langford in the early months of 1936 and they had a daughter Judith who was born later that year.
If you are a direct relative of Charles, Frederick, or James please either contact the CWGC by emailing email@example.com , with your name and details of relationship, or phone Mike Dewey on 01494 755070, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.