Gunner Harry Bridgewater

Gunner, Royal Garrison Artillery. Service number 28021.
Serving with 8th Divisional Ammunition Column.

Early life:
Harry was born in 1888 in Keighley. His parents were Thomas and Sarah Bridgewater née Davies.
The family lived at 165, Hope Street until 1892 when they moved to 75, Back King Street. Their father Thomas was a stonemason, but changed occupation when he became a wood turner.
Harry had several siblings, they were:
John Thomas born in 1878; William born in 1880; Charles born in 1883 but died in 1885; George born in 1886; Beatrice born in 1890 but died in 1893, Alfred born in 1893 but died the same year.
Their mother Sarah died in 1904 and their father Thomas remarried in 1905 to widow Mary Jane Beck. Thomas died in 1906 and Mary Jane died in 1916.

Apart from the troubles with child deaths in the family, Harry may have had his own problems and appears to have been sent to Middlesex Industrial School, where he was in the 1901 census. These were set up to teach young children a trade instead of incarceration and we believe he stayed there for 18 months and age 16 appears to have been the usual age for release.

Prior service:
Harry joined the 3rd West Riding Volunteers (Militia) at Keighley on 16th February 1905, when he was 17 years and 3 months old. His employer was J. Heap and he was a labourer. His service number was 8128.
He went to Halifax Barracks for a medical the next day and his details were: 5 feet 6, 1/4 inches height, 136 lbs weight, 36, 1/2 in chest and with a fresh complexion, Hazel eyes and brown hair.
Next of kin details were of his father Thomas, living at 24, Lustre Street in Keighley and his three older brothers John Thomas, William and George.
He completed 49 days drill and attended annual training in 1905, 1906 and 1908.

Hand written reference letter in support of his enlistment with the 3rd Battalion, West Riding Volunteers in 1905:

Thorn Croft, Keighley.
February 14, 05.
I beg to state that I have known Harry Bridgewater for some years - he served for 18 months in an Industrial Home; but since then has, I believe, been honest and straight.
He cannot get regular work (which is bad to get in this town) & wishes to enlist.
H.C. Longsdon J.P.
(This was Henry Crofts Longsdon, Councillor. Mayor of Keighley 1899 to 1902. He was also managing director of Summerscales Limited of Parkside Works, Keighley, West Yorks. Also of Phoenix Foundry and Coney Lane Works, Keighley.

Harry joined the regular Army on 3rd January 1908 when he enlisted with the Royal Garrison Artillery. His character was rated as 'good.'
At the time he enlisted he was 20 years and 11 months of age and living at 34, Bradford Street in Keighley and employed as an iron striker. He'd grown a little and was now 5 feet 8 inches height and 150 lbs with a 38, 1/2 inch chest. His new service number was 28021 and he had enlisted for 8 years with the colours, followed by four years in the reserve.
He was posted to 15 Company at Londonderry on 1st February 1908 and went absent without leave from 10.00 pm on 4th June and was detained by the civil police on 23rd June after 19 days. He didn't actually return for another five days, on 28th June, making his absense a period of 24 days. He was awarded 10 days detention and docked pay for deficiences in his kit.
He was posted to 85 Company on 2nd February 1909 and served in Aden where he achieved the 3rd Class certificate of education. He served for 1 year and 239 days at Aden until 29th September 1910 then he served in India for another 32 days until 30th October 1910, when he deserted at Bombay.
He was punished a number of times whilst in service, for absenting himself, overstaying leave, kit deficiencies and improper conduct. The punishments ranged from being admonished, confined to barracks or a charged a small fine.
He was absent from the Army for over three years.

War service:
After war broke out in August 1914, he appears to have returned, to 47 Company Royal Garrison Artillery at Tynemouth, when he was almost immediately placed on trial in York for desertion. This trial appears to have been dispensed with, he was granted a King's Pardon and all his former service was forfeited, beginning again from 11th August 1914. He had surrendered himself to the police and confessed to desertion, which must have worked in his favour.
He went overseas to France on 5th November 1914. At Estaires on 28th December 1914, he was awarded 10 days Field Punishment no. 2 for making a false account against an NCO. Harry was still serving on 6th May 1915 when he died of pneumonia at no. 6, Casualty Clearing Station. He was serving with the 8th Divisional Ammunition Column of the Royal Garrison Artillery.
He was buried at Merville Communal Cemetery.
His next of kin were two of his brothers, John Thomas of Mitchell's Sawmills at Berkley in Ontatio, Canada and George of unknown address. Harry's mother and father having died some years earlier.

After his death, on 10th June 1915 his fiancée Jane Baynes of 8, Devonshire Buildings at Barrow in Furness contacted the War Office requesting his effects and stated that Harry had written to her to say he'd named her in his Soldier's will.

Her letter stated:
I am no relation but we were going to get married but owing to outbreak of war had to wait. Death certificate is required in connection with his Trades club which he agreed to me. I have a letter from him in which he states he had made a will in my favour.

Harry's personal effects were a belt, purse, knife, razor, letter, 3 photo cards and a birthday card.

Harry's 'Soldier's Effects' record shows that his sole legatee was Mrs. J. Baynes. Jane received his outstanding back pay of £ 9s. 6d. on 13th October 1915 and a further payment of 6 shillings on 10th April 1916. A war gratuity payment of £3 was also paid to her on 26th June 1919.

There is no record of a pension being applied for or granted.

The reply to Spr J. T. Bridgewater 11th Canadian R. ### was as follows:

15th October 1915

Your letter of the 15th instant to hand. The personal effects of the late No. 28021 Gnr. Bridgewater R.G.A., were forwarded to:-
Mrs. J. Baynes,
8a, Devonshire Buildings,
Barrow in Furness.

on the 15th October 1915, in acordance with instructions received from the War Office.
Officer in charge RGA Records.

A further hand written letter dated October 15, 1918 and stamped by the R.G.A. Records Office, Dover:

23rd October 1918
Sapper J. T. Bridgewater
No. 773087. 11th Canadian R. F.
(Died 6/5/1915.)
Dear Sir,
I am writing to you these few lines, about my deceased bro. 28021, Gunner Harry Bridgewater, now I have wrote to the War Office but did not get no reply. That was in 1915. I thought it would take time to get a answer but so far I have had none so I got my wife(?) to send me his papers so that I could write to you now as far as I understand I was to get what effects he had left and he is a 1914 man, that is he left England in Sept 1914 so you see I think he was entitled to the mons medal.
I am the oldest brother out of 4 of us, what all #### come to the call of the country. Two of us in the Canadians and one in the Duke of Wellington's Regt. and my late brother was not married so that is why I am writing to you if you can give me any information, I was on leave last December from France but I did not like to go to the War Office about it, for I had not got the papers with me so I hope you will do your best for me.
Your obedient servant.
Sapper J. T. Bridgewater.

Below John's handwriting is written:
Effects sent to Mrs. J. Baynes,
8a, Devonshire Buildings,
Barrow in Furness. 15/10/15.

Letter written by Harry's brother John Thomas Bridgewater Date of receipt 29th December 1919 at RGA records office, Dover:

December 11th 1919.
I cannot give you the address for my two brothers, My brother William as just come to Canada and my other brother as got his discharge from the C. E. F. and I have not seen him since I got my discharge from the C.E.F.
So this is all I can tell you at present.
I remain your obedient servant.
John T. Bridgewater.

Typed letter from the Royal Garrison Artillery Record Office, Dover:
28th Feb. 1920.
War Office. (A.G.10)
27, Pilgrim Street.
London E.C.
28021. Gunner, H. Bridgewater.

As no Army form 118.A. has been received authorising the release of the "1914 Star" to the Next-of-Kin of above. Will you please issue instructions regarding disposal of same.
Next-of-Kin has been verified with this mans documents and would appear to be,

Mr: J. T. Bridgewater.
C/o Mitchells Sawmills,
Ontario, Canada.

for Officer i/c R.G.A. records.

Typed memorandum from the War Office regarding Harry's medals:

War Office. (A.G.10)
27, Pilgrim Street.
Ludgate Hill,
London E.C.4.
28th April 1920.

(Medal Branch, A.G.10.)

With reference to the disposal of any medals which have been, or may eventually be awarded in respect of the service of the soldier described in the margin, now deceased, I am directed to inform you that any such medals should be despatched by Registered Post to:-

His sole legatee, Mrs. Jane Baynes,
8a, Devonshire Buildings,
Barrow in Furness.

These instructions confirm those contained in War Office Effects Form 118A, No. E/85023/1, dated 13.10.1915.
Driector of Personal services.

The Officer in Charge of
Royal Garrison Artillery Records,

Harry was awarded the 1914 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal for his war service. He could have been eligible for the India General Service Medal, but since he deserted he would have forfeited any right to it as his service for this period was later discounted in his Army records.

Receipt for the British War Medal signed by Jane Baynes January 8th 1921.
Receipt for the 1914 Star signed by Jane Baynes May 4th 1920.
Receipt for the Victory Medal signed by Jane Baynes April 13th 1921.

Despite his arrival in France on 5th November 1914 and being eligible for the clasp and rose, there does not appear to have been any application made for these to be awarded. The eligibility dates were between 5th August and 22nd November 1914.

There is a form concerning the Great War Memorial plaque in his service records and his brother John Thomas Bridgewater certainly contacted them about it, but it may have gone to Jane Baynes as his sole legatee.

Gunner Harry Bridgewater is buried in Merville Communal Cemetery, plot II, Row Q, Grave 4.
Merville is a town 15 kilometres north of Bethune and about 20 kilometres south-west of Armentieres in France. The Communal Cemetery is on the north-east side of the town on the north side of the road to Neuf-Berquin.

Harry is not named on any local war memorial or roll of honour in Keighley. This may be because the only people who would have put his name forward for inclusion were his three brothers, two of whom were living in Canada.
He is not named in Keighley's Great War roll of honour, despite being born here, living here for much of his life and enlisting from here.

Mrs. Jane Baynes was a widow and still living at 8a, Devonshire Buildings in the 1921 census and appears to have been a widow since at least the 1911 census. She died at Barrow in Furness aged 78 in 1944. She was 20 years older than Harry.

Source information:

England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915
West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1813-1935
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1910
1871 England Census
1891 England Census
1901 England Census
1911 England Census
Series Wo 96 - Militia Service Records 1806-1915
Wo 363 - First World War Service Records 'Burnt Documents' 1914 - 1920
Keighley's Gallant Sons:
Bridgewater 41, Beck Street (It says Peck Street in the newspaper, but this street never existed.)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Soldiers Died in the Great War
British Army World War I Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
World War I Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920
Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929
1921 England Census.

Family timeline:
Because the family situation was so fragmented, we have created a timeline of events which would have been relevant to Harry's life:
1888 Son Harry birth. Baptised at St Peters, Keighley same year. Father Thomas is a wood turner.
1888 Electoral, Thomas Bridgewater 165, Hope street South Street Keighley
1889 Electoral, Thomas Bridgewater 165, Hope street Keighley
1890 Electoral, Thomas Bridgewater 165, Hope street Keighley
1890 Daughter Beatrice birth. No baptism found.
1891 Electoral, Thomas Bridgewater 165, Hope street King Street Keighley Census
1891 Census aged 34 (Mason), at 75, Back King Street, Keighley with wife ## Mary(?) aged 33 ## sons John T. aged 12, Will aged 11, George aged 5, Harry aged 3 and daughter Beatrice aged 1.
1892 Electoral, Thomas Bridgewater 165, South street Keighley Moved to 75, King Street in this year
1892 Electoral, Thomas Bridgewater 75, King street Keighley
1893 Electoral, Thomas Bridgewater 75, King street (Back King Street) Keighley
1893 Death. Daughter Beatrice age 3.
1893 Birth. Son Alfred. Baptised at St Peters, Keighley same year. Father Thomas is a wood turner.
1893 Death. Son Alfred aged 0.
1894 Electoral, Thomas Bridgewater 75, King street Keighley
1895 Electoral, Thomas Bridgewater 75, King street Keighley
1895 Electoral, Thomas Bridgewater 75, King street Keighley
1897 Electoral, Thomas Bridgewater 75, King street Keighley
1898 Electoral, Thomas Bridgewater 77, King street Keighley
1899 Electoral, Thomas Bridgewater 75, King street Keighley
1900 Electoral, Thomas Bridgewater 13, Prospect place Keighley Moved to 13, Prospect Place in this year
1901 Census age 45 (Roller finisher), at 13, Prospect Place, Keighley with wife Sarah aged 43, Sons John T aged 22 and George aged 15.
1901 Electoral, Thomas Bridgewater 13, Prospect place Keighley
1901 Census age 13 Henry Bridgewater, Juvenile offender at Middlesex Industrial School, Feltham.
1903 Electoral, Thomas Bridgewater 13, Prospect place Keighley
1904 Death. Wife Sarah. Age approximately 43.
1905 Electoral, Thomas Bridgewater 13, Prospect place Keighley
1905. Marriage on 28th January (widower) aged 47 a sawyer of 71, High Utley, to Mary Jane Beck (widow) aged 40, a weaver of 24, Lustre Street. Mary Jane's father was John Rushton (a borer, deceased).
1906 Electoral, Thomas Bridgewater 23, Bengal street Keighley Moved to 23, Bengal Street in this year
1906 Death. Thomas. Age 48.
1915 Death of Harry on 6th May.
1916 Death. Mary Jane Bridgewater. Age 51.

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