Three pals from Castle Gresley; their story in postcards
“H” (Swadlincote) Company, 5th (Derby) Battalion, Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby) Regiment
This page will be based around a collection of 25 postcards that I was fortunate to obtain several years ago. They belonged to a Castle Gresley man, Thomas Ison, and record his service in the 5th Battalion from the early Volunteer days until he was wounded in late 1915. This is a fascinating series of photographs that also includes his two friends, Bill Patrick and Jack Fielding.
All three men survived the Great War, but have very different stories to tell.
Letter “H” Company, 5th (Derby) Battalion, the Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby) Regt were headquartered at Swadlincote Drill Station. In addition, various sections were also found in the outlaying villages and this was the case for the Castle Gresley section of “H” Company, which was established at High Cross Banks, whilst yet another section was stationed at Repton Drill Station.
Many of the men that served together also worked and socialised together, this was particularly the case for Tom Ison, Jack Fielding and Bill Patrick, who were all non commissioned officers in “H” Company. This postcard is part of the H.P. Hanson series and was posted on the 26th January 1912, suggesting that it was taken the previous summer during the annual Camp at Scarborough in 1911 (or earlier at Hindlow in 1910). The card is addressed to Ada Clemments and was sent by T.C.I (aka Thomas Charles Ison).
Thomas Charles Ison
Thomas Charles Ison was born in 1885 in Castle Gresley near Swadlincote in south west Derbyshire. He was a coal miner ‘hewer’ by trade and in 1911, aged 26, he still lived with his parents Thomas and Alice at Linton Road in Castle Gresley. Thomas enlisted into the 5th Battalion Notts and Derby Regiment prior to the War and certainly before 1910. Indeed, he may have been a member of the original 1st Volunteer Battalion the Derbyshire Regiment. However, at some point, possibly because he was ‘time expired’, Thomas left the Battalion, only to re-enlist on the 8th August 1914, just four days after the battalion had mobilised at Derby.
The War Diary for that period states “100 N.C.O.’s and men with previous Service were at once attested”; 2467 Thomas Ison, 2337 Bill Patrick and 2326 Jack Fielding were most likely amongst those men that joined up on the outbreak of War. This post card is part of the H.P. Hansen series and may have been taken at the annual camp in 1910.
The Nominal Role of D Company can be downloaded here D Company August 1915.
He was wounded prior to the end of the year, possibly during the attack on Hohenzollern Redoubt where the 5th Battalion suffered over 50 casualties. Thomas spent Christmas 1915 in Hospital in Nottingham before being discharged due to wounds on the 3rd April 1916.
He married Ada Clements later that year and they lived in Castle Gresley until his premature death in 1938 aged 53 years; Ada died in 1979 aged 88.
John Milton (Jack) Fielding
John Milton (Jack) Fielding was born in Elland near Halifax on the 22nd July 1888 and later attended Elland Grammer School. Jack was a coal miner loader by trade and enlisted into the 5th Battalion, Notts & Derby Regiment in February 1909. Jack attended many of the annual training camps such as Llanrhystyd in 1912, by which time he had been promoted to Sergeant. This photograph was part of a series taken by Albert Heath of Thanet Street in Clay Cross at the annual camp in 1912.
Jack re-enlisted as a private into the 5th Battalion Notts & Derby Regiment at Swadlincote on the 8th August 1914, four days after Great Britain declared war on Germany. At the outbreak of the War, Jack was living in Rose Cottage in Castle Gressley and worked as a miner for Hall Collieries Ltd in Swadlincote. On the 23rd August he was promoted to Corporal, followed by Sergeant the following day. On the 28th August, whilst at Harpenden he signed the Imperial Service Agreement and on the 19th September Jack married May Gibson in the Parish Church in Harpenden. May was a chambermaid at the Midland Hotel in Derby.
He arrived in France with the 46th Division on the 1st March 1915, but was invalided to England on the 12th December 1915 as the result of a fractured bone in his foot after tripping during trench duty at Richebourg on the 24th November. During this time the Battalion suffered four killed, seven wounded and 23 evacuated sick. Jack spent seven weeks recovering in hospital before being posted to the 3/5th Battalion on the 17th February 1916.
On the 17th March he was sent to the Command Depot in Ripon for 3 months to recover from the fractured ankle, returning to the 5th (Reserve) Battalion stationed at Saltfleet on the 30th June 1916.
On the 30th July 1918, at the age of 30, Jack was discharged from the 3rd Battalion Notts & Derby Regiment and granted a temporary Commission in the 5th Battalion, proceeding to the No. 3 Officer Cadet Battalion at Parkhurst.
2/Lt J. M. Fielding was later attached to the Royal Air force but returned to the 3rd Reserve Battalion Notts & Derby stationed at Roker near Sunderland on the 27th January 1919.
William James (Bill) Patrick
William James (Bill) Patrick was born in Linton in 1885 and was a Colliery Clerk by trade. Bill’s mother was the post mistress in Linton between the years 1891 and 1901. He was married to Isabel in 1909 and by 1911 they were living at Stanton Villa in Linton.
During an unsuccessful trench raid by “C” Company on the night of the 28th/29th April 1917, Bill Patrick and the medical officer (Captain Suttie) went out into no-mans-land on several occasions to help bring in the wounded.
Bill was mentioned in dispatches during the attack on Lens in July 1917 and was also awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for a successful raid on enemy trenches in the St Elie right sector on the 11th December 1917. This daylight raid by Captain D Smith and men of “A” and “C” Companies entered the first three lines of German trenches and the men returned with 5 prisoners and a light machine gun. The Battalion suffered 2 men killed, 22 wounded and 2 missing.
At the end of 1917 he was invalided to England and finally disembodied on the 10th February 1919; nearly 4 years since he had left England with the 5th Battalion Notts & Derby Regiment to join the British Expeditionary Force in France.
The Pre-War Territorials
Annual Camp 1909. This post cards shows N.C.O.s and men of “H” Company, the 5th Battalion Notts and Derby Regiment. Bill Patrick, Tom Ison and Jack Fielding and the rest of the section cleaning and polishing their equipment prior to an inspection. This card has been posted in an envelop but an impression of the frank remains and shows ‘1.15 PM AU 8 09’ suggesting that this card was posted from the annual camp at Scarborough in 1909. Interestingly, to the right of the men are a stack of Lee Metford Rifles whilst the service jacket clearly shows a 5-tier Notts and Derby TF shoulder badge (T 5 Notts and Derby).
1910 and the North Midland Divisional Camp at Hindlow. The 5th Battalion, which had marched from Derby to Hindlow Camp, a distance of nearly 40 miles, arrived on Monday with the Robin Hood’s Bugle Band and the 6th Battalion’s Brass Band leading them. This postcard was sent from Tom to his fiancé Ada on the 4th August 1910. On it he writes:-
“Dear Ada, I am sending this post card it is as we arrived here on Monday. I have marked me with ink so you can find me. Hoping you are quite well. From Tom”.
At the time of writing Ada was a domestic housemaid for Thomas Simmonds (1842-1912), who had been a teacher of Science and Art at the Derby School of Art, before taking over from Robert Greenlees in 1881 as Headmaster of Glasgow School of Art. The post card, YMCA 29, forms part of the H.P. Hanson series for 1910.
In this picture we see the men digging trenches which was a regular exercise at the annual training camps. The topography of the land suggests that this was taken at Scarborough in either 1909 or 1911. it.
1912 and the North Midland Divisional Camp at Llanrhystyd road. The 5th Battalion Camp itself is indicated by the rectangle and was located on farm land close to Aberbrwynen and was bounded to the north by the Milford & Manchester Railway and to the south by the River Ystwyth. The 6th Battalion were to the left of the 5th and the ambulances of the North Midland Field Ambulance can be seen in the bottom right corner.
“With very good wish to the Sergeants of H Co, from the Waiter”. This postcard shows a Sergeant’s mess that is well stocked with Allsopp’s beer at the annual camp of 1912. Standing at the bar is 2 Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant Harry Petrie. Harry was born in Winchester in 1872 but moved to Derby where he was a sorting clerk and telegraphist. He enlisted in to the 5th Battalion on the 1st April 1908 having previously served in the 1st VB, the Sherwood Foresters from 1890. He arrived in France on the 1st March 1915 and was discharged time expired in April 1916, aged 44. Also present in the picture are several other sergeants relaxing in blue patrols or mess jackets. The tall man standing at the back is possible a Police Sub Inspector of a the Cardiganshire Constabulary. Samuel Allsopp & Sons was one of the largest brewery companies operating in Burton-upon-Trent and would have been a local brewery for Castle Gresley.
Sergeants of “H” Company, 5th Battalion. Post card is part of the H.P. Hanson series and shows at the front and from the left Jack Fielding, Bill Patrick, Bert Maddock and Tom Ison with an unknown Sergeant of “H” Company. This picture was possible taken at the annual camp of 1913.
764 Sergeant Bertram Ashmore Maddock. Bert Maddocks was born in Swadlincote in 1892, the son of Arthur and Emma Jane Maddock. He was the eldest of 5 children (Ruth b. 1893, Eva b. 1894, Dora b. 1896 and Frank b. 1898) and their father was a Colliery underground deputy. In 1901 they lived at 101 Coppice Side in Church Gresley, however Arthur died later that year aged only 35. Emma remarried Frederick Cox in 1910 and the family moved to 5 Chapel Street in Newhall. By 1911, Bert was lodging with the Bates family at 11 Weston Street in Swadlincote and worked as a pipe labourer and later as a gas works foreman employed by the Repton Gas Company.
Bert enlisted into the 5th Battalion on the 22nd October 1908 and was mobilised as a Colour Sergeant in “H” Company in August 1914, arriving in France on the 27th February 1915. He was promoted to Regimental Sergeant Major on the 9th August 1915 and was the first Territorial to be so appointed (usually this role was performed by an ex-Regular soldier). During the attack at Gommecourt on the 1st July 1916, Bert Maddock went over the top with Colonel Wilson and the Adjutant Captain Lewis.
“In R.S.M. Maddock I found a R.S.M. after my own heart. He was excellent at all times, both as drill instructor and in the the line. I could not have wished better.”
He served in France from 1st March 1915 to 30th May 1917; 11th June 1917 to 4th March 1918; 4th April 1918 to the 23rd January 1919.
MID [LG 15/06/1916]; French Medaille Militaire [LG 01/01/1917]; DCM [LG 01/01/1918]; TFEM [LG 01/02/1919].
1914 and mobilisation. This picture, taken by Henry Hinge of Station Road in Ashbourne, shows the Bugle Band and men of the 5th Battalion leaving Derby on the 16th August. Leading the band is 400 Sergeant Drummer Edwin Newton (Enlisted April 1908 and discharged July 1916 due to sickness) Also seen in the foreground are Sergeants Fielding and Patrick (circled).
After re-enlisting as a private into the 5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters in August 1914, Tom Ison was sent first to Harpenden (top left) and then with the Battalion to Braintree in Essex (top right). By the time the Battalion moved to Braintree Tom had been promoted to Corporal and had signed the Imperial Service Agreement. This picture was taken at `Ray Studio, 37 London Road, Braintree’.
1915 and Harpenden. Men of the 5th Battalion, on the terrace of ‘Rosemary’, the house Henry Tylston Hodgson had built in 1908, and made available for billeting; it later became a hospital from October 1915 to May 1916. A picture of the Officers sat on the same steps was published in the Battalion History by L. W. de Grave in 1930. Interestingly, many of the men are wearing 3-tier “Notts and Derby” shoulder badges, which might indicate that they are new recruits. Sergeants Tom Ison and Bill Patrick are pictured. This post card was addressed to Ruby Ison at High Cross Banks in Castle Gresley but not posted.
Thomas Ison was invalided to England late in 1915. He spent several months in Hospital before being discharged from the Army in April 1916 due to wounds. Tom spent Christmas in Hospital and was given a special Christmas gift by the Lord Lieutenant, City and County of Nottingham, “sent as a slight token of the high appreciation entertained by the community of the valour and achievements of its fighting men on land and sea”. Both of these photographs were taken by “Godfrey, Duke St. Basford, Nottm” and show men from a number of different regiments including the Royal Scots, Northumberland Fusiliers and several Scottish Regiments. Also present are boys from the local Scouts and Sea Scouts.
Relatives or chums of Tom Ison. Also present in Tom’s collection of post cards are portraits of two men who were not members of the Notts & Derby Regiment. These may be pictures of men that Tom met in hospital or members of his family. The photograph of the Scottish soldier was taken in the Midland Art Studio of Charles Samuel Swift at 125 Normanton Road in Derby.
A low resolution PDF can be downloaded here castle gresley_low_res