Three brothers, and a brother-in-law, die together

For the family of George and Emily Urry, of Newport on the Isle of Wight, the 12th August 1915 was a very sad day. Three of their sons, Edward (35), Frederick (21) and William (26) died whilst serving with B Company, the 1/8th (Isle of Wight Rifles, Princess Beatrice's) Battalion, the Hampshire Regiment, in the Suvla Bay operations on Gallipoli. They died, just two days after arriving in Gallipoli, during the advance across Kuchak Anafarta Ova.  To add to the family tragedy, Edwards brother-in-law William Richardson (21) died in the same action. All four had enlisted in Newport during the latter part of 1914 and early 1915. Initial training was at Parkhurst but later at Bury St. Edmunds and then Watford. A number of interesting Newspaper cuttings have been found relating to this tragic time for Islanders - click on the 'Cuttings' button at the top of the page.
 

Suvla Bay, Gallipoli - 12 August 1915
The 1/8 Hampshire Regiment (Isle of Wight Rifles) were attached to the 163rd Infantry Brigade, 54th East Anglian Division and at 11pm on the 30 July 1915 they sailed from Liverpool, aboard the Aquitania, bound for Lemnos in Greece, from where smaller vessels took them to Suvla Bay, Gallipoli. An Allied force under Lt. Gen. Frederick Stopford had landed at Suvla Bay on 7 and 8 August 1915 and occupied the beach, which led to a plain overlooked by a range of hills. Stopford then waited whilst stores were landed before occupying the empty hills. By the time he decided to move upon them the Turks had filled them with artillery and infantry. The 163rd Brigade, consisting of the 1/5th Suffolk, 4th & 5th Norfolk, & 1/8 Hampshires were landed on 10 August 1915 in order to attack the Turkish positions on Anafurta Ridge. Stopford, then delayed this attack, until pressured by the overall commander, General Hamilton, thus giving the Turks ample warning. On 12 August 1915 at 1645hrs, the advance was ordered across terrain varying from thick scrub to abandoned fields, all cut with dried watercourses. Their objective was to clear the area of snipers prior to a Divisional attack on Anafarta Ridge the next day. The enemy were armed with machine guns and supported by dozens of snipers, many of them teenage girls, camouflaged and hidden in trees. For some reason during the advance the Norfolks, including men from the Royal Estate of Sandringham, turned slightly to the right, opening up a gap between them and the other British troops and became separated. The attack quickly turned into a massacre. Mystery and fantasy has dogged this action ever since (the so-called Vanished Battalion). The Isle of Wight Rifles lost 89 men on this day. General Stopford was relieved of his command of the division on the 15 August 1915.

None of the brothers has a known grave but all are commemorated on the Helles Memorial to the Missing in Gallipoli, the war memorial in Newport and at Carisbrooke Castle.


Pte. Edward George URRY (Rifleman - 8/670)
(
B Company,  1/8th (Isle of Wight Rifles, Princess Beatrice's) Battalion., Hampshire Regiment
)
Died 12th August 1915.. Aged 35
Edward George Urry was born, together with his twin sister Clara, on the 4th July 1880 in Weymouth, Dorset. When he was 10 years old, the family moved to the Isle of Wight, living in Whippingham for a while but finally settling in Newport. After leaving school, Edward trained as a Blacksmith in Newport but clearly had early ambitions to become a soldier  as he was already a  member of the 5th Hampshire Volunteers, when, on the 10th August 1904, he signed up in Sandown for a short service tour of 3 years to be a Driver with the Corps of Royal Engineers. On his Attestation Form, his age was recorded as 21 years and 2 months (he was actually 24years and 2 months), his trade a Blacksmith and his religion as Baptist. He was sent to Aldershot for basic training but was discharged after just 74 days in the service. Edward married in 1906 and lived in Clifford Street, Newport with his wife Laura and five children. He worked for Messrs. Bright and Binns (Dye Works).

For details of the Suvla Bay action in which Edward died click here

Rifleman Edward Urry was awarded the following decorations: Victory Medal, British War Medal and the 1914-15 Star.


Pte. Frederick Albert URRY (Rifleman - 8/853)
(B Company,  1/8th (Isle of Wight Rifles, Princess Beatrice's) Battalion., Hampshire Regiment
)
D
ied 12th August 1915.. Aged 21
Frederick Albert Urry was born in Newport, Isle of Wight in 1894. After leaving school, he was employed as a Carriage Painter. Frederick was not married and lived with his parents in Orchard Street, Newport. He worked for the Saddlers Messrs. R. B. Cheverton and Sons in Newport.

For details of the Suvla Bay action in which Frederick died click here

Rifleman Frederick Urry was awarded the following decorations: Victory Medal, British War Medal and the 1914-15 Star.


 

 

 

Pte. William Henry URRY (Rifleman - 8/2032)
(B Company,  1/8th (Isle of Wight Rifles, Princess Beatrice's) Battalion., Hampshire Regiment
)
Died 12th August 1915.. Aged 26
William Henry Urry was born in Weymouth, Dorset in 1890. He was just a few months old when the family moved to the Isle of Wight, living in Whippingham for a while but finally settling in Newport. After leaving school, William was employed as General Labourer with Timber Merchants Messrs. H. W. Morey and Sons. He was unmarried and lived with his parents in Orchard Street, Newport.

For details of the Suvla Bay action in which William died click here

Rifleman William Urry was awarded the following decorations: Victory Medal, British War Medal and the 1914-15 Star.



Sapper George Henry URRY (12th Field Coy., Royal Engineers - 23672)
D
ied 9th February 1915.. Aged 26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Henry Urry was born on the 13th June 1889 in village of Carisbrooke on the Isle of Wight.

The 12th Field Company of the Royal Engineers had been in Armentières, in support of the 6th Division's operations, since the 1st November 1914. Active fighting had died away on this front, but its place was taken by constant shelling and deadly sniping which claimed many victims. The weather during November and December  had been truly appalling and snow fell during the first three weeks of January. All trenches were in a poor condition, knee-deep in mud and water, parapets would not stand and were so flimsy that many men were shot through them. When the weather eventually improved at the end of January and material for revetment began to appear, 12th Field Coy., with Sapper Urry, would have been very busy repairing, wiring  and building trenches so that troops could move around the trenches in comparative safety. The actual circumstances of George Urry's death are not known, it could have been shell or sniper fire or even an accident during construction work.

George's death is commemorated in perpetuity on the Ploegsteert Memorial which is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. His name also appears on the War Memorials in Newport town centre and at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight.

Sapper George Henry Urry was awarded the following decorations: Victory Medal, British War Medal and the 1914-15 Star.


Pte. William RICHARDSON (Rifleman - 8/1347)
(B Company,  1/8th (Isle of Wight Rifles, Princess Beatrice's) Battalion., Hampshire Regiment
)
Died 12th August 1915.. Aged 21

 

 

 

William was born about 1894 in Newport on the Isle of Wight. He was unmarried and lived in Clifford Street, Newport, with his sister and her husband (Edward George Urry who also died in the same action) A sad time for Florence, losing her husband and brother. William worked for Messrs.Weeks Ltd.

For details of the Suvla Bay action in which William died click here

Rifleman William Richardson was awarded the following decorations: Victory Medal, British War Medal and the 1914-15 Star.


Pte. Alfred HOWSON (7th Battalion of the Royal West Kent Regiment - G/2383)
D
ied 8th November 1916.. Aged 29

 

 

 

Alfred Howson was born in Blackburn, Lancashire on the 28th March 1887. Before the first world war, he had been in the 3rd Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment (no 16 3274) for a time. He became a weaver afterwards.

Probably answering Kitchener's call to form a new army in August 1914, Alfred joined the queues and enlisted in Blackburn on the 9th September 1914. He was assigned to the newly formed 7th Battalion of the Royal West Kent Regiment and soon found himself on one of the special trains to Purfleet in Essex, where the new recruits were equipped and began their training. Thousands of volunteers were arriving here and there was insufficient accommodation at the time, so many had to sleep in tents through that first winter.

The 7th Bn. moved to Colchester in April 1915 and then on to Salisbury Plain in May. On the 25 July 1915, Alfred and his pals were posted to France where they landed in Le Havre on the 27th July 1915.

As part of the 18th Division,the RWK’s 7th Bn. took part in the 1st July 1916 attack on the Somme  and was among that terrible day’s success stories, occupying enemy trenches at Montauban. Alfred was wounded on the 27th July and taken to a Field Hospital for treatment. He was in hospital almost 12 weeks before being moved to a rest camp on the 18th October. He spent only 5 days at the rest camp before rejoining his comrades in the trenches on the 23rd October. Whilst Alfred was in hospital, his Battalion saw hard fighting in the battle for the Schwaben Redoubt (a mass of gun emplacements, trenches and tunnels) by all accounts, the fighting here was simply dreadful but it was captured by the 14th October 1916.

Less than 3 weeks after returning to the trenches, Alfred was killed in action on the 8th November 1916. No particular  action has been identified and no memorial has yet been found for Alfred.

Private Alfred Howson was awarded the following decorations: Victory Medal, British War Medal and the 1914-15 Star.


Sapper Victor Charles BLUNDERFIELD (527th, 2nd Durham, Field Coy. Royal Engineers - 541632)
D
ied 23rd August 1918.. Aged 22

 

 

 

Victor Charles Blunderfield was born in Milton, near Gravesend, in Kent on the 18th September 1895, the youngest of only two boys in a family of 9 children. In 1912, at the age of 17 years, Victor followed his older brother into the Merchant Navy, initially working as a 'Deck Boy' on the passenger ships operating between Britain and Australia.

Given his maritime experience, it seems strange that Victor joined the Army. He enlisted in Gillingham, Kent and was assigned to the 527th (2nd Durham) Field Company of the Royal Engineers, who were attached to the 5th Division. On the 21st August 1918, the 5th Division were in involved in the Battle of Albert on the Somme, the first of what became a series of complex, overlapping attacks that forced the German Army into retreat and an end to the war. It seems probable that Victor was killed during this battle.

Victor died of wounds on the 23rd August 1918, just 11 weeks before the war ended, and is buried in  plot II.B.24 of the Foncquevillers Military Cemetery in the Nord Pas de Calais region of France.

Sapper Victor Charles Blunderfield was awarded the following decorations: Victory Medal  and the British War Medal.


A/S Ernest JENKINSON (Royal Navy P/JX142175)
Died 30th July 1940.. Aged 22

 

 

 

Ernest JENKINSON was born in Blackburn, Lancashire on the 23rd February 1918. He served as an Able Seaman with the Royal Navy aboard the  Defender Class Destroyer HMS Delight (H38). Having spent several months in the harsh environment of the North Sea supporting the Norwegian campaign, which included the evacuation of Narvik, the Delight was taken for a refit and exchange of her boiler tubes at Rosyth on the 21st June. Presumably, the crew were afforded some shore leave during the repairs and it seems probable that Ernest was married at this time. Delight sailed from Rosyth on the 24th July, through the English Channel, to Portland. Under the command of  Commander  Mark. Fogg-Elliott RN DSO, she left Portland on the 29th July in daylight (daylight sailing was in contravention of local orders and placed the vessel at significant risk at a time when there was a crucial shortage of destroyers due to losses in Norway and during the evacuation of allied troops from Dunkirk and France). Soon after leaving the harbour, she was detected by German radar at Cherbourg, which directed German aircraft to attack the destroyer, by now some 20 miles (32 km) off Portland Bill (50.12N 002.17W). She attempted to fight them off but was hit by a bomb on her fo'c'sle, which caused a major fire and a subsequent explosion. She finally sank in Portland harbour early the next morning. HMS Delight still lies in Portland harbour at a depth of approximately 55m, broken in half and upside down.

Ernest died of his wounds the following day, 30th July 1940 and is buried in the Royal Navy Cemetery at Portland. C of E section Grave number 688.

Ernest had only been married a few weeks and probably never knew that he was the father of a baby girl who was born in early 1941.

Altogether, 19 men lost their lives. 

Eight were killed in the attack
Four were posted as missing
presumed killed
Seven, including Ernest,
died later of their wounds
BARTON, Thomas, Stoker 1c
BENFORD, George E, Stoker Petty Officer
BENNETT, Andrew, Engine Room Artificer 3c
DENNETT, William J, Able Seaman
HAMMOND, Frank C, Able Seaman
HOLDSWORTH, Sidney, Stoker 2c
LAWTON, Frank, Chief Engine Room Artificer
MORGAN, George A, Engine Room Artificer 3c
GIBBONS, William, Ordinary Seaman
PAVEY, Donald P, Able Seaman
SEMPLE, William, Stoker 2c
STORR, Cyril H, Able Seaman
DAY, Cyril R, Leading Seaman
ATKINS, Leslie J, Ordinary Seaman
HOMBURG, Ernest S, Ordinary Seaman, RNSR
JENKINSON, Ernest, Able Seaman

MILLER, Harold, Able Seaman
DICKINSON, Henry C, Chief Petty Officer Stoker
MORGAN, Richard E, Able Seaman




 


Pilot Officer William Edward BLUNDERFIELD (Royal Canadian Air Force - J/92165)
Died 9th February 1945.. Aged 22

 

 

 

William Edward Blunderfield was born in Toronto, Canada, around 1923, the only son of six children born to William Henry and Kate Elizabeth Blunderfield who had emigrated from Gravesend in Kent several years earlier.

William attended the John Fisher and Allenby (Junior) public schools and North Toronto collegiate. He was a member of St. Clements Anglican church in North Toronto, where he was in the choir for ten years and President of the Boys Club. After graduating, he joined the staff of the Bloor and Dovercourt branch of the Dominion Bank.

He enlisted in July 1942 and after being winged at Malton, Ontario, in June 1943 was posted, within two weeks, to RAF Cranwell for  operational training. He was then  assigned to 404 Sqdn.RCAF  which was attached to RAF Coastal Command Strike Wing at Dallachy in Scotland.

Black Friday - At around 1030hrs on the morning of 9th February 1945, two Beaufighters from 489 Sqdn., on a reconnaissance mission along the Norwegian coast, spotted the German destroyer Z-33, of the famous Narvik-class, and a heavy escort, anchored in Forde fjord between Mula and Heilevang. A large strike force of 43 allied aircraft was quickly assembled at Dallachy, including 11 Beaufighters from 404 Sqdn. RCAF and placed under the command of the experienced 'Aussie' Wing Commander Colin Milson. The force were airborne by 1400hrs and, apart from a few squally showers, the weather and visibility were good. In fjord attacks it was usual to fly inland for a while after making a landfall, and then approach the fjord at right angles before turning down the fjord at a height that would allow the aircraft to clear the high ground yet still dive in to attack the target when spotted. The aircraft could then break away to seaward on completion of the attack and get a good start for the journey back across the North Sea.

After crossing the Norwegian coast and heading inland for  a while, the formation turned north expecting to see the enemy at the entrance of Forde fjord. Then; a nasty surprise, they suddenly found themselves under fire from the ships which were almost underneath them. The German sailors knew they had been spotted earlier so fully expected an attack. Wisely, the German commander decided to move his vessels further into the fjord, near a place called Bjorkedal, where the mountains rise almost vertically from the fjord, making  it very difficult for a 400 km/h plane to hit them with cannon and rockets. Two vessels sought the protective cover of these mountains, others, including the Z-33, placed themselves at the other side of the fjord, near Frammarsvik, and three others anchored in the middle of the fjord, possibly to give their Flak guns a wider arc of fire. The planned attack was not possible, they would have to continue on in a westerly direction, then make a 180 degree turn northeast to attack into the fjord. The Beaufighters were ordered into echelon port just before the wing turned in for the final attack. This was the time that things started to really go wrong, all the manoeuvring had taken an awfully long time, long enough for twelve Focke-Wulf enemy fighters to appear at the scene. Milson made the first attack, behind him others were queuing up to make theirs - there was simply no room in the fjord for more than two or three Beaus' to attack at the same time. Projectiles of all calibres were streaming towards the planes, making the entire fjord look a very dangerous place to be! This speaks volumes of the courage and bravery of the young men who were to press their attack home, regardless of their chance of survival. 

Nine Focke-Wulfs attacked directly into the swarm of Beaufighters waiting to attack the ships. One of the German pilots, Artner, wrote the following report after the battle:

"About 50 km north of Sogne-Fjord, we saw the enemy formation which consisted of approximately 30 Beaufighters and 10 Mustang escort fighters. During a combined attack, I managed to gain hits on a Beaufighter which I attacked from behind and above. The Beaufighter was seen to loose it's tail and exploded. The crash was noted at 16.10 about 10 km north-west of Forde (Quadrat 06 East LM 1.5). The crew did not leave the plane."

A member of the crew was later found in the sea and identified as P/O Blunderfield, indicating that this aircraft, possibly the first casualty of the day, was Beaufighter EE-V of 404 (RCAF ) Sqdn. The body of the pilot  P/O Jackson (photo on the right) was never recovered and his name is inscribed on the Runnymede memorial for those with no known grave but the sea.

The aerial battle only lasted 15 minutes but was intense. More aircraft were lost; one Mustang and nine Beaufighters were shot down, of which six were from the hard-hit 404(RCAF) Squadron. This squadron lost 11 men killed on a this day, with another one taken prisoner. Altogether 14 young lives were lost on the allied side and two on the Germans in the aerial battle. At this stage of the war with the end clearly in sight, it must have seemed a heavy price to pay. In the annals of World War II history, the 9th February 1945 is known as Black Friday. A fuller account of the attack can be read here Black Friday

William is buried in the British Section (Plot F18) of the Haugesund (Rossebo) Var Frelsers Cemetery in Norway. He is also commemorated on the Allenby school memorial honouring former students who served in the armed forces.