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2nd Devons: the Ranelagh Rovers football team

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Appeal for information about the Ranelah Rovers in the Westminster Chronicle.  Part of 2nd Devons War Diary Martin Body, published by Pollinger Ltd Area of Paddingon where the Ranelagh Rovers had their football pitch.  Part of 2nd Devons War Diary Martin Body, published by Pollinger Ltd Bullets used in many firearms in World War I.  Part of 2nd Devons War Diary Martin Body, published by Pollinger Ltd Rattle used as gas warning during World War I.  Part of 2nd Devons War Diary Martin Body, published by Pollinger Ltd German butcher bayonet used in World War I.  Part of 2nd Devons War Diary Martin Body, published by Pollinger Ltd British sword bayonet used in World War I.  Part of 2nd Devons War Diary Martin Body, published by Pollinger Ltd Gaming dice used by soldiers during World War I.  Part of 2nd Devons War Diary Martin Body, published by Pollinger Ltd

Can you help?
Martin is working on his next book:
THE 2ND ROYAL FUSILIERS WAR DIARY AND ITS LOST MEN 1915-1919
(coming next Spring 2014)
Do you have any information about the individuals from that Battalion or their families?
Do you have any personal memories of the Battalion or its men?
If so please contact Martin Body by email.

The Ranelagh Rovers join the Army
The search for information regarding the Ranelagh Rovers and how they came to join the 2nd Devons, which was a ‘Regular’ Army battalion, when they are believed to have joined up as ‘Short Attestation’ men.

The Ranelagh Rovers Army serial numbers
At Marylebone and Fulham on 6th September 1914, serial numbers were issued to newly enlisted Devons, ranging between 11134 and 11188. The identities of the team fall within those numbers. This section provides details the lads most likely to have been the players.

Surviving Army Service Records
The Army Service Records of the only four men whose serial numbers fall between 11134 and 11188. Two may have been members of the Ranelagh Rovers. This section also covers Field Punishment rules and Medical Grading Categories.

A ‘Street Search’ for the Ranelagh Rovers
Tracing the possible identities of the Ranelagh Rovers by location.

The likely location of the Ranelagh Rovers football pitch
The probability was that the Ranelagh Rovers played at a park adjacent to Senior Street. This section also covers the later use of the field and the decline and demolition of much of the area.


The Ranelagh Rovers join the Army

Amy Yates states in her memoir that, on 6th November 1914, her elder brother, Charles Hulbert Yates and his team mates in the Ranelagh Rovers football club, volunteered en masse for the Army at Marylebone, Middlesex and joined the Devonshire Regiment.

All research regarding the Ranelagh Rovers at the London Metropolitan Archive, the Westminster Archive, extensive internet searches and a trawl through Parish Church magazines and local newspapers for match reports have turned up absolutely no trace of the team or its players. An appeal for information in the Westminster Chronicle also failed to uncover any new information. The conclusion is that the Ranelagh Rovers was a very amateur football team, in a junior league.

The Devonshire Regiment recruited men for their 2nd and 9th Battalions at Fulham and Marylebone on 6th September 1914, which was the only day the Regiment recruited in London during that early stage of the war. From such records that have been tracked down, it would appear that the fitter examples of manhood were earmarked for the 2nd Battalion, while the remainder was sent to the 9th Battalion. Those assigned to the 2nd Devons were sent home to await instructions and didn’t depart for Exeter until the 8th of November. The men taken for the 9th Battalion set off for training the very next day, 7th September. Why there was this difference may have been to do with the 9th Battalion being one of Lord Kitchener’s freshly created ‘New Army’ units, while the 2nd Battalion was nominally at full strength and, at that moment in time, was still in transit to England from the Middle East.

The 2nd Battalion, a Regular Army unit, departed for France on the 6th November 1914, and it is reasonable to assume that the training of new recruits was a secondary priority until the main cadre of the 2nd Battalion had joined the B.E.F. in France. However, it is also a fact that so many men had volunteered in August and September 1914, that the training facilities at Exeter were somewhat overwhelmed, which may be another explanation for the delay.

On the outbreak of war, a contingency plan had immediately been put into operation by the Government, whereby Short Attestation volunteers would be used to make up losses within the Regular Army battalions, rather than relying on men to join up as long service regulars. That was obviously a compromise but was it entirely necessary and does not mean that the standard of the recruits taken to serve in the Regular Battalions was allowed to drop too far.

How proud those patriotic young Londoners who volunteered on 6th September 1914 must have been to have joined such a prestigious outfit as the 2nd battalion, the Devonshire Regiment. On the other hand, it may simply be that the prospect of joining a regiment based ‘at the seaside’ held a greater attraction compared to local units like the Middlesex Regiment or the Royal Fusiliers. Whatever the reason, they joined the 2nd Devons and the rest, as they say, is history.

After a great deal of research, the identities of thirteen lads who are believed to be the Ranelagh Rovers have been established, although this has been done by a process of elimination rather than by positive identity and, consequently cannot be 100% reliable. Their ages vary to some extent, which made them being school chums unlikely. The common denominators which link them are the football team and, probably, the Church Lads Brigade, in which Charlie Yates was a drummer in the band. The Church Lad’s Brigade was run on militaristic lines and, in 1912, was designated as a Cadet Force, with Territorial Army connections. This may have a bearing on Charles Yates’ statement, “We thought people were looking black at us,” when his mother asked why they didn’t wait to join up. Perhaps it was people within the hierarchy of the Church Lad’s Brigade that were “looking black” at them.

Because possible Ranelagh Rover, Harry Downton’s Army Service Record states that he was recorded at the training outpost at Honiton in January 1915, the probability is that the other members of the team were sent there to train as well. One has to assume that, as an established football team, with the added bond of having joined the Army together, they would have wanted to continue playing together if at all possible, although there are no records to support this theory.

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The Ranelagh Rovers Army serial numbers

As previously stated, to date no positive proof of the identity for any of the Ranelagh Rovers has been found, apart from Charlie Yates. There was a batch of Army serial numbers which were issued to the newly enlisted men on 6th September 1914 at Marylebone and Fulham, ranging from 11131 to 11188, and the Ranelagh Rovers are all contained therein. The full list of the recruits allocated those numbers follows. There are seven missing numbers in the sequence, possibly issued to men who did not serve abroad and do not have a Medal Card to gather information from, or to men who were found to be under the required age and were subsequently discharged (this happened to the author’s grandfather when he attempted to join the Middlesex Regiment in 1916), or the numbers were not issued, which seems unlikely bearing in mind the random spread of the missing numbers.

11134Holliday, Arthur 11161(blank)
11135Glenn, Harold T. 11162Stokes, William E.
11136Challis, William G. (brother of 11180 Challis, Henry Walter) 11163Kemp, John G.
11137Brooks, Charles. 11164Markey, Arthur
11138 11165Allen, Charles
11139Dixon, William 11166Windsor, Frederick
11140Chad, Charles 11167Raven, Charlie
11141McVety, Frederick Burt 11168Curd, John Jonas
11142 11169Ward, James
11143Hayes, Edward J. (brother of 11186 Hayes, William Ernest) 11170Humphries, Frank
11144Ramsey, Edward James 11171Helyar, George W.
11145Kerslake, Frank. 11172Charman, Frederick
11146Harwood, Arthur J. 11173George, Charles
11147 11174Harley, Sidney Robert
11148 11175Weeks, Frederick E.
11149Price, Sidney 11176Lowe, Albert
11150 11177MacSweeney, Peter
11151Moody, Frederick George 11178Fry, William P.
11152West, Arthur. 11179Dixon, John Michael
11153 11180Challis, Henry Walter (brother of 11180 Challis, William G.)
11154Drury, George 11181Abbott, Harry Ernest
11155Simester, Richard F. 11182Hole, William
11156Payne, Charles S. 11183Newman, Frederick George
11157Smith, Walter G. 11184Dobbins, Ernest W.
11158Knight, Thomas 11185Frank, Charles
11159Webb, James G. 11186Hayes, William Ernest. (brother of 11143 Hayes, Edward J.)
11160Downton, Henry George 11187Yates, Charles Hulbert
11188Taylor, Thomas

From the list above, the lads believed to have been members of the Ranelagh Rovers are as follows:

Allen, Charles 11165 Age in 1914: 17
1911 address: 31 Clarendon Street, Paddington. Recorded in 1911 Census as born: 1897, Marylebone, son of Charles Allen, carman/coalman, and Emily E. Allen, charwoman. His Medal Card shows that he was later GS/106334 of the 43rd battalion, Royal Fusiliers, and later still 415509 of the Labour Corps. He joined B.E.F. on 24/03/1915 with the 2nd Devons. He was awarded the 1915 Star, British Medal and Victory Medal and survived the war.

Chad, Charles 11140 Age in 1914: 22
1911 address: 157 Fifth Avenue, Queen’s Park, Paddington. Recorded in 1911 Census as a railway porter, son of Charles Chad, general labourer, and Mary Chad. Charles Chad married 20 year old dressmaker, Mary Cook, on 25th July 1918. at St.Peter’s Church, Paddington. His Medal Card indicates that he was promoted to Corporal but reduced to Private, for reasons and dates unknown. He remained with the 2nd Devons and was placed in ‘Z’ Reserve on 03/03/1919. Joined B.E.F. on 24/03/1915. Awarded the 1915 Star, British Medal and Victory Medal.

Challis, William G. 11136 Age in 1914: 22
1911 address: 5 Anne’s Place, Kinnerton Street, Knightsbridge, London. Recorded in 1911 Census as a warehouseman, son of Alice Challis (father not recorded). Joined B.E.F. on 24/03/1915. Awarded the 1915 Star, British Medal and Victory Medal. He was killed in action on 1st July 1916 at Ovillers, the First Day of the Battle of the Somme. (Brother of William G. Challis – they enlisted together).

Challis, Henry Walter 11180 Age in 1914: 24
1911 address: 3a Lisson St. Lisson Grove, Paddington. Recorded in 1911 Census as: egg warehouseman. Married: 1st August 1909 to Ada Force, at St. Matthews Church, Marylebone. Later joined the 3rd battalion London Regiment. Joined B.E.F. on 24/03/1915. Awarded the 1915 Star, British Medal and Victory Medal. He survived the war but records suggest he died in 1931, aged 41. (Brother of William G. Challis – they enlisted together).

Downton, Henry G. 11160 Age in 1914: 19
1914 address: 5 Wesley St, High Street, Marylebone. Born: 1897, Marylebone. Son of Albert Henry Downton, Carman, and Mary Ann Downton. Joined B.E.F. on 24/03/1915 with the 2nd Devons but later transferred to the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry. Awarded the 1915 Star, British Medal and Victory Medal. Before joining up in 1914, he was employed by B. Davies & Son, ‘Dairy Experts’, of 28 King Street, Portman Square, London W.1. While on home leave in January 1919 he visited his old employers, who wrote to the authorities offering him back his old job as a Dairy Assistant. He was demobbed at Warwick on 28th February 1919 and, one assumes, went back to work at the dairy. He is the only member of the Ranelagh Rovers whose Army Service Records survived. They are summarised after this section.

Harley, Sidney Robert 11174 Age in 1914: 17
1911 address: 114 Clarendon Street, Paddington. 1911 Census records him as born 1897, Paddington, employed as an errand boy at a motor body makers, son of Alexander Harley, picture porter, and Mary Ann Harley. Medal Card states that L/Cpl. Harley was discharged from the Army on 10/04/1917 as a result of wounds. Joined B.E.F. on 24/03/1915. Awarded the 1915 Star, British Medal and Victory Medal.

Hayes, Edward J. 11143 Age in 1914: 28
1911 address: 274 Harrow Road, Paddington (the Desborough Arms public house, 1910 publican: Frederick Harding). 1911 Census records him as a servant. Medal Card indicates that he remained with the 2nd Devons. Joined B.E.F. on 24/03/1915. Awarded the 1915 Star, British Medal and Victory Medal. He was discharged from the Army on 31/05/1919. (Brother of 11186 William Ernest Hayes – they enlisted together).

Hayes, William Ernest 11186 Age in 1914: 21
1911 address: 38 Delamere Crescent, Paddington. 1911 Census records him as born in 1891, Paddington, employed as a tea packer, son of Emma Alice Hayes, widow. Medal Card indicates that he was commissioned as a 2/Lieutenant on 20/10/1917 in the 3rd Devons, and that he was was awarded the 1915 Star, British Medal and Victory Medal. Joined B.E.F. on 24/03/1915. He survived the war. (Brother of 11143 Edward J. Hayes – they enlisted together).

Holliday, Arthur 11134 Age in 1914: 22
1911 address: 124 Clarendon Street, Paddington. Born: 1892, Paddington, son of Joseph Holliday, window cleaner, and Martha Holliday. In the 1911 Census, Martha Holliday is recorded as a widow and Arthur Holliday as being employed as a packer in a motor accessory works. He was a next door neighbour of Charlie Yates and it was he who brought home the details of his death. His Medal Card indicates that he remained with the 2nd Devons and was eventually promoted to Colour Sergeant, although the dates of that and previous promotions are not recorded. Joined B.E.F. on 24/03/1915. He was awarded the 1915 Star, British Medal and Victory Medal and survived the war.

Knight, Thomas 11158 Age in 1914: 23
1911 address: 6 Crompton Street, Paddington. 1911 Census records him as born: 1891, carman on the Great Central Railway, son of John Knight, police pensioner, and Emma Knight. Joined B.E.F. 01/04/1915, a week after his mates. At an unknown date he transferred to the 1st Devons. Awarded the 1915 Star, British Medal and Victory Medal. He survived the war and was discharged on 07/01/1919.

McVety, Frederick Burt 11141 Age in 1914: 21
1911 address: 55 Amberley Road, Paddington. 1911 Census records him as born on 27th April 1893, Paddington, employed as a tailor’s under cutter, son of Robert McVety, boot repairer, and Jane McVety. Died 1957, in Paddington. Joined B.E.F. on 24/03/1915. Medal Card indicates that he remained with the 2nd Devons and was awarded the 1915 Star, British Medal and Victory Medal. He survived the war and was transferred to ‘Z’ Reserve on 06/04/1919.

Moody, Frederick G. 11151 Age in 1914: 17
1911 address: 10 Dudley Place, Paddington. 1911 Census records him as born in 1897, Paddington, employed as a clerk, son of Edwin Moody, lamplighter, and Mary Moody. Joined B.E.F. on 24/03/1915. Awarded the 1915 Star, British Medal and Victory Medal. He was Killed in action on 1st July 1916 at Ovillers, Picardy, the First Day of the Battle of the Somme Offensive.

Ward, James 11169 Age in 1914: 24
Killed in action, Born in Marylebone. Enlisted: Fulham. Residence: Marylebone. 1901 Census records him as born in 1890, Marylebone, grandson of James Ward and Jane Ward, 39 Paxton Road, Chiswick, London. 1911 Census records him as the son of James Ward, general labourer, and Harriet Ward, launderess, 10 Watson’s Mews, Marylebone, Middx. Joined B.E.F. on 24/03/15. Awarded the 1915 Star, British Medal and Victory Medal. He was killed in action on 9th May 1915 at Bois Grenier and has no known grave. His name is recorded on the Ploegsteert Memorial, panel 3.

Yates, Charles Hulbert 11187 Age in 1914: 20
Born on 12th November 1893 at 108 Seymour Place, Marylebone. 1901 address: 15 Cuthbert Street, Paddington.
1911 address: 126 Clarendon Street, Paddington.
1911 Census records Uncle Charlie as an ‘errand boy, shop’, son of Charles Henry Yates, House Painter (unemployed), and Maria Yates, dressmaker. Joined B.E.F. on 24/03/1915. Awarded the 1915 Star, British Medal and Victory Medal. He was Killed in action on 1st July 1916 at Ovillers, Picardy, the First Day of the Battle of the Somme Offensive.

Taylor, Thomas 11188 Age in 1914: 33
1911 address: 70 Cirencester Road, Paddington, coal carter, father of 6, married to Ellen Mary Ann Taylor. He joined the 9th Devons and was sent to Exeter on the 7th September 1914, severing any further attachment to the Ranelagh Rovers. His Medal Card indicates that he remained with the 9th Devons and was awarded the 1915 Star, British Medal and Victory Medal. Joined B.E.F. on 27/7/1915. He survived the war and was placed in ‘Z’ Reserve on 04/03/1919. At 33 years of age, he may have been a player/coach and mentor to the younger players. The close proximity of his home to a number of them, and the fact that he appears to have stood amongst them when they signed up, suggests far more than a passing acquaintance. It may be that he was involved in the organization of the Church Lad’s Brigade.

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Surviving Army Service Records

Unfortunately, very few documents relating to the men of the Devonshire Regiment: Army Service Records, Pension Records etc., survived the London Blitz of 1941, 60% of the records from the Great War being destroyed by fire, including nearly all of the Devons records. However, a few did survive, including two for men who signed up in London on 6th September 1914, one of whom, Henry George Downton 11160, was a possible Ranelagh Rover:

Henry George Downton 11160
Born: 1897 Marylebone. Age on attestation: 19
Residence: 5 Wesley Street, High Street, Marylebone
Height: 5’5¾” Weight: 118 lbs Chest: 35” Chest Expansion: 1” Eyes: brown
Hair: brown Complexion: fresh Distinctive marks: brown hand
06/09/1914 Attested at Marylebone. Sent home to await instructions.
08/11/1914 Posted to the training battalion: 3rd Devons, at Exeter Barracks.
09/01/1915 Training outpost at Honiton. Crime: ‘Creating a disturbance in his billet at 10.15pm.’ Punishment: 3 day’s C. B. Witness: Sgt. Lock. Punishment awarded by Captain Tomlinson.
02/03/1915 Transferred to 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment.
24/03/1915 One of a draft sent to the BEF to reinforce the 2nd Devons. Sailed from Southampton and landed at Le Havre.
22/05/1915 In the Field. Crime: ‘Deficient of an oil bottle.’ Punishment: 3 days Field Punishment No.2.* Witness: Cpl. Lang. Punishment awarded by: Captain Imbert-Terry.
29/11/1915 In the Field: ‘By neglect harming his great coat.’ Punishment: Deprived of one day’s pay. Witness: 7296 Sgt. Sydney George Carthew (Commissioned 2/Lt. 12/03/18, killed in action 26/03/18). Punishment awarded by: Lt. Col. Travers DSO.
04/05/1916 In the Field. Crime: ‘Smoking on a march contrary to orders.’ 7 day’s Field Punishment No.1. Witness: Sgt. Palmer. Punishment awarded by: Lieut. Sparkes.
15/09/1917 Posted to ‘D’ (probably the Devon’s depot at Raglan Barracks, Devonport).
27/10/1917 Granted furlough until 05/11/1917.
05/11/1917 Posted to 3rd Devons.
20/11/1917 Appointed Lance-Corporal (unpaid).
20/03/1918 Reverted to Private on proceeding to France.
01/04/1918 Posted back to 2nd Devons.
06/04/1918 Transferred to 2/4th Ox & Bucks Light Infantry. 34564. ‘B’ Company.
20/05/1918 In the Field. Crime: ‘Absent off parade at 2.30pm.’ Punishment: 2 day’s C. B.
31/02/1919 Demobilized at No.1 Dispersal Unit, Wimbledon.

FIELD PUNISHMENT No.1
Soldier attached standing full length to a fixed object – a post or gun wheel – for up to 2 hours a day, often 1 hour in the morning and 1 in the afternoon, for up to a maximum of 21 days.

FIELD PUNISHMENT No.2
Same as Field Punishment No.1, except that the soldier was shackled but not fixed to anything.

On January 12th 1917, the Army Council issued strict rules on the conduct of Field Punishments, following complaints:

“...the soldier must be attached so as to be standing firmly on his feet, which if tied, must not be more than twelve inches apart, and it must be possible for him to move each foot at least three inches. If he is tied round the body there must be no restriction of his breathing. If his arms or wrists are tied, there must be six inches of play between them and the fixed object. His arms must hang either side of his body or behind his back.

Irons should be used when available, but straps or ropes may be used in lieu of them when necessary. Any straps or ropes used for this purpose must be of sufficient width that they inflict no bodily harm, and leave no permanent mark on the offender.”

The following man was not thought to be one of the Ranelagh Rovers, but he joined up alongside them in Marylebone on 6th September 1914. As elements of his Army Service Records have survived they are included as a matter of interest:

George William Drury 11154
Born: 1891 Chelsea, Middx. Age on attestation: 23
Residence: 14 Uverdale Road, Chelsea, Middx.
Religion: C. of E.
Occupation: Tiler’s mate.
06/09/1914 Attested at Marylebone. Sent home to await instructions.
08/11/1914 Posted to the training battalion: 3rd Devons, at Exeter Barracks.
02/03/1915 Transferred to 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment.
24/03/1915 One of a draft sent to the BEF to reinforce the 2nd Devons. Sailed from Southampton and landed at Le Havre.
13/01/1917 Attended a Bombing Course (Qualified).
17/03/1917 In the Field. Reported sick with foot problem. Admitted to hospital.
10/04/1917 Returned to duty.
14/04/1917 Wounded in action at Peronne. G.S.W. (Gunshot wound) to lower back and buttocks.
14/04/1917 Admitted to No.1 General Hospital.
15/04/1917 Admitted to 26th Field Ambulance.
17/04/1917 Admitted to Lord Derby’s War Hospital, Warrington.
11/08/1917 Granted furlough until 20/08/1917.
22/08/1917 Returned to hospital: 1st S.G. Hospital, Edgbaston, Birmingham.
14/04/1918 Discharged from hospital. 15/04/1918 Posted to Depot at Exeter. Sick – Impetigo.
24/06/1918 Posted to Command Depot, Perham Down, Andover, Hants.
25/06/1918 Forfeit 1 day’s pay R.N. (?) and 5 day’s for absence of 15 hours and 20 minutes.
11/08/1918 Granted 1 month furlough.
12/09/1918 Rejoined from furlough.
16/10/1918 Posted to 3rd Devons, at Devonport.
27/10/1918 Admitted to Devonport Military Hospital suffering from Hydrocele.
31/12/1918 Admitted to 4th Southern Gen. Hospital with Tonsillitis and Influenza.
05/03/1919 Discharged from hospital.
07/03/1919 Medical Board.* 04/04/1919 Discharged from Army – transferred to Army Reserve.

*An Army Medical Board, prior to Drury’s discharge from the Army, noted the following: ‘Fully recovered’ from Tonsillitis and Influenza:

‘Quite recovered’ from back and buttock wounds. Physical condition: ‘quite fit’. Hydrocele complaint underwent a ‘successful operation’. Level of disablement rated at: ‘1%’ (one percent). Grade on discharge: ‘A3’

George William Drury spent a total of 435 days in hospital during the war: 235 due to his back and buttock wounds and 200 to various illnesses and conditions. However, according to the Medical Board, as a ‘Returned Expeditionary Force man’, he would be able to stand active service conditions once he had recovered his strength, hence the category ‘A3’ grading. (All figures are taken from official Army records).

Medical grading categories used by the British Army
A Able to march, see to shoot, hear well and stand active service conditions
A1 Fit for dispatching overseas, as regards physical and mental health, and training
A2 As A1, except for training
A3 Returned Expeditionary Force men, ready except for physical condition
A4 Men under 19 who would be A1 or A2 when aged 19
B Free from serious organic diseases, able to stand service on lines of communication in France, or in garrisons in the tropics
B1 Able to march 5 miles, see to shoot with glasses, and hear well
B2 Able to walk 5 miles, see and hear sufficiently for ordinary purposes
B3 Only suitable for sedentary work
C Free from serious organic diseases, able to stand service in garrisons at home
C1 Able to march 5 miles, see to shoot with glasses, and hear well
C2 Able to walk 5 miles, see and hear sufficiently for ordinary purposes
C3 Only suitable for sedentary work
D Unfit but could be fit within 6 months
D1 Regular RA, RE, infantry in Command Posts
D2 Regular RA, RE, infantry in Regimental Depots
D3 Men in any depot or unit awaiting treatment

It seems reasonable to conclude that George Drury’s wounds and illnesses would have placed him, at best, somewhere in category B. Category A3, where he was placed, encompasses a huge grey area when it states: ‘ready except for physical condition’, and one wonders if it was written that way to enable the authorities to give as high a grading as possible to men being discharged from the Army.

During research I also stumbled across records relating to two more men who volunteered for the Devons in London on 6th September 1914, both of whom joined the 9th Battalion and are not thought to be members of the Ranelagh Rovers. They are included for no reason other than that they are interesting:

Frederick George Newman 11183 9th Devons
Born: 1889 Basingstoke, Berks. Age on attestation: 25 Residence: Molyneux St., Basingstoke, Berks.
Height: 5’6” Weight: 130 lbs Chest: 37” Chest expansion: 2”
Complexion: fresh Eyes: grey Hair: brown Religion: C of E
Distinctive marks: nil
06/09/1914 Attested at Marylebone
07/09/1914 Posted to 9th Battalion, Exeter
05/12/1914 Discharged from the Army. Comments on discharge papers are largely indecipherable, but include the words, ‘not likely’.

Arthur Markey 11164 9th Devons
Born: 1896 Hammersmith, Middx. Age on attestation: 19
Residence: 40 Chelmsford Street, Hammersmith
Height: 5’6” Weight: 123 lbs Chest: 34” Chest expansion: 2”
06/09/1914 Attested at Fulha
07/09/1914 Posted to Exeter
09/09/1914 Posted to 9th Battalion, Devons
03/12/1914 Admitted to Connaught Hospital suffering from Colic
10/12/1914 Discharged from hospital
01/04/1915 Crime: Absent from billet until 9am 05/04/1915. Punishment: awarded 14 days C.B. 06/04/1915
26/06/1915 Crime: Absent from tattoo until 9pm 27/06/1915. Punishment: forfeit 2 days pay
01/10/1915 Admitted to hospital in Chichester. Gunshot wound, right thigh.
17/10/1915 Discharged from hospital
10/01/1916 Posted to 11th Devons
01/09/1916 Transferred to 11th Territorial Battalion, Devons
20/10/1916 Crime: at Wareham. Creating a disturbance in his hut about 9.40pm. Punishment: 10 days C.B.
15/12/1916 Transferred to 22nd Devons
09/01/1917 Posted to 2nd Battalion, Essex Regiment. 34041, B Company, Sailly Laurette, France
17/02/1917 Appointed L/Cpl (unpaid) at Bouchavesnes
19/03/1917 Appointed L/Cpl (paid) at Monchy Breton
30/03/1917 Wounded at Monchy Breton. Passed through hospitals at St. Pol and Comines
20/04/1917 Admitted to York Military Hospital. Shrapnel wound in back
30/04/1917 Discharged from hospital. Granted leave until 10/05/1917
12/07/1917 Joined 3rd Essex
25/08/1917 Appointed Acting Corporal (paid)
29/10/1917 Confirmed in rank of Corporal
05/12/1917 Gassed. Arras district
08/12/1917 Admitted to hospital. “Gassed w. s. lethal”
09/12/1917 Admitted to hospital, Comines. “Gas shell w.”
15/12/1917 Admitted to hospital, Etaples. “Gas shell w.”
18/12/1917 Admitted to hospital, Tourville. “Gas shell (w)”
14/01/1918 “Joined” at Calais (presumably at a depot awaiting orders)
09/02/1918 Rejoined 3rd Essex at Bernaville
28/03/1918 Reported ‘Missing in the Field’ at Fampoux, Arras – next of kin informed
22/10/1918 Confirmed as Prisoner of War at Parchim, Germany
26/12/1918 Arrived in England after release from P.O.W. camp
28/03/1919 Demobbed

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A ‘Street Search’ for the Ranelagh Rovers

Tracing the Ranelagh Rovers was a long process, which involved an ‘on-line’, house to house search of a large tract of Paddington: Amberley Road, Clarendon Street, Delamere Crescent, Delamere Terrace, Woodchester Street, Ranelagh Road, Formosa Street, Harrow Road, Blomfield Gardens, Hethpool Street, Adpar Street, Dudley Place, Cirencester Street, Senior Street, Chichester Road, Crompton Road and Cuthbert Street, to name but a few.

A report from the mid-1890s notes the contrast between the rising commercial prosperity of Westbourne Grove, with the decline of the streets further north, between the Great Western Railway and the Paddington Branch of the Grand Junction Canal. Overcrowding was a huge problem in the area, with Clarendon Street judged to be the worst, averaging 17 persons per dwelling, closely followed by Woodchester Street, with 16.4. Cirencester Street and Waverley Road also counted among the worst eleven in the parish in 1894-95. The Lock Bridge area west of Ranelagh Road, bounded by the Canal to the north and Westbourne Terrace North to the south, was rated as one of the six poorest parts of generally affluent North-West London. Within these boundaries, Clarendon Street, Woodchester Street and their neighbours were the poorest of all. Subletting had developed to the extent that a room might have different tenants by day and night. In an attempt to bring the situation under some sort of control, the local authority declared such buildings to be lodging houses, the extent of which can be gauged by the fact that this ruling applied to the whole of one side of the street.

Interestingly, the 1872 map of the area is blank where Clarendon Street was built, but Woodchester Street and Cirencester Street are both shown. However, a contemporary account states that by 1861, Desborough Lodge and Westbourne Farm had made way for the building of the three streets. It may perhaps be that Clarendon Street was the last to be built and was not started, or was incomplete when the map was drawn.

This was the environment into which the Yates household came to live in around 1905, give or take a couple of years, and it does not appear to have improved very much, if at all, since the mid-1890s. Overcrowding in the houses of those mean streets had not decreased and few, if any, were occupied by single families, unless they happened to be exceedingly large families with several wage earners. Most houses, according to the 1911 Census, had between two and six families living in them.

The houses in Clarendon Street were typical of the two and three-storey dwellings built in the area in the late 1860s, and number 126, a three-storey, ten room house where the Yates’ lived, was occupied by an incredible twenty-one people, from eight families. Of Charlie Yates’ family, only four lived at home: his parents, Maria and Charles Henry Yates; sister, Amy Winifred, aged 11, and Charles Hulbert, aged 18. In 1910, Charles and Maria Yates’ last born child, Frederick Richard, had died of infant mortality at the age of 1. The Yates’ fifteen year old daughter, Emily (Cissie), was living out as a servant/domestic at 9 Clifton Villas, Paddington, while the two youngest children, Alice Rose and Henry Frederick are recorded in the Census as ‘Scholar/Inmate’ at the West London District School at Ashford, Middlesex (a Poor Law school, more or less on a par with the workhouse, in which 800 children from the poverty-stricken parts of Fulham, Hammersmith, Paddington and Westminster lived and were educated). In the remaining rooms within 126 Clarendon Street there were eleven more occupants aged fifteen and above, four more children of school age and two babies.

Charlie’s father, Charles Henry Yates, had been ‘taken with paralysis’ (probably a stroke) in about 1909-10, according to his daughter Amy’s memoir, and one is left considering the possibility that the Yates family, with their primary source of income incapable of work, resorted to subletting on a grand scale to make ends meet, after all, 21 people living under one roof was excessive, even by Clarendon Street standards. It also gives a good reason why the two youngest children were sent away to the Poor Law school – mum and dad simply couldn’t afford to feed and clothe them.

The residents of the houses in these poor streets were entirely working class: ‘general labourer’ is the most common job title in the 1911 Census, followed by: carman, railway porter, gas fitter, warehouseman, farrier, railway platelayer, errand boy, house painter, engine cleaner, clerk, barman, packer, shop assistant, tailor’s assistant, boot repairer, lamplighter and so on, jobs which encompass the whole strata of the pre-Great War working class. Criminal activity was commonplace.

Of the women who weren’t fully engaged in raising children, the more respectable mostly had jobs as laundresses and charwomen, while others found a way of earning a living that did not appear on the Census forms: prostitution.

Prostitution was rife in London at that time and, although it is not possible to determine what actually went on in any individual house, it is interesting to note that in quite a few, every room was rented to a single woman, while in other houses, one, two or even three rooms were let to single women, and while that is not proof positive that prostitution was taking place there, it is obvious that it often was. Thieving and burglary were also rife and practised mostly, but not entirely, by men.

As a matter of interest, the low numbered houses of Clarendon Street commenced in the west, where it joined Harrow Road by the Lock Bridge, the even numbers being ranged along the north side of the road, adjacent to the canal bank, while the odds were on the south. Odd and even numbers ran consecutively from 1 to 88 after which there were only even numbers, ending at 146 at the junction with Ranelagh Road. Numbers 126 upwards were three-storey houses, while 124 downwards were of two-storey construction (see c.1955 photograph of the canal and the backs of the houses in Clarendon Street). The land opposite numbers 90 to 146 was occupied by St. Mary Magdalene C. of E. Church and School, number 126 being directly opposite the Church. Immediately to the south, on the junction of Woodchester and Cirencester Streets, sat the ‘Princess of Wales’ public house, where Charlie Yates’ deceitful father used to raffle his children’s Christmas and birthday presents to keep himself in beer and baccy.

The origin of the residents in the area was predominantly English, with a substantial percentage of Irish and a Jewish element, whose names mostly sound Eastern European. The surnames of the families recorded as living at 126 Clarendon Street in the 1911 Census were: Yates, Glazin, Fowler, O’Shea, Daley, Wharton, Moore and Webb (Webb was lodging with Moore).

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The likely location of the Ranelagh Rovers football pitch

The football teams the Ranelagh Rovers played against are unknown and are likely to remain so, but their home pitch has been located at a nearby school sports field, bounded by Senior Street, Westbourne Terrace North, Stalham Street and Philip Terrace. In 1915, Senior Street Council School was built on the site, at the same time swallowing up Stalham Street and Philip Terrace, and some of the houses on the north side of Westbourne Terrace North, now renamed Bourne Terrace. If the team had reformed after the war they would have had to find a new pitch to play on. In the event, there is no evidence that this happened, leaving the Ranelagh Rovers as an undocumented part of Paddington’s history.

In 1952, Senior Street Council School was renamed the Edward Wilson Primary School, after Dr. Edward Adrian Wilson, who died alongside Captain Scott during his ill-fated Antarctic expedition in 1911. Dr. Wilson, originally from Cheltenham, had worked for a while in the Paddington area, at which time he resided in nearby Delamere Terrace.

Because of its advanced state of dilapidation, the local Council had considered levelling Clarendon Street in 1938, but with the advent of the Second World War this did not happen. Eventually, most of the area was demolished during a slum clearance programme in 1958-59, and more went in 1962 to make way for the construction of the A40 Westway Flyover. Of Clarendon Street, where Charlie Yates and some of his mates lived, Woodchester Street, where Thomas Taylor lived, and most of Cirencester Street, which together covered the area between the football field and the canal, nothing remains, the land now occupied by three blocks of flats known as the Warwick Estate and some modern housing. The entire length of Clarendon Street was laid to lawn and now forms an attractive border to the canal towpath. Of the deprivation and poverty which marked the area less than a hundred years ago, not a trace remains.