Category Archives: Abbey Baptist Church

John Weeks

John Weeks
Second Lieutenant
11th Battalion  Devon Regiment attached to Hampshire Regiment

 Division 8

Weeks John photo Weeks J Royal Edward ship

John Weeks home address was 39, Northumberland Avenue, Reading.  He joined the army in Exeter  in September 1914 and was quickly awarded a commission. Census evidence suggests that he was a law clerk in 1911 and boarding with a family in Exmouth. His father was William Weeks; his name is on John Weeks attestation papers.

 John Weeks was 26 years of age when he was lost at sea in the “Royal Edward” disaster, 13th August 1915.  The transport ship was carrying 1,380 officers and troops and a ship’s crew of 220 officers and men, when it was sunk by a German submarine in the Ægean Sea with great loss of life.  Only 600 were saved.  The disaster was particularly tragic, because so many lives were lost.  The men had spent a long time in training.  In the report the men were described as “burning to meet the foe”.  The ship’s destination was  the Gallipoli peninsula.  Details outlining the history of the ship and how it was sunk can be found on Wikipedia.

 John Weeks was buried in Syra New British Cemetery, Greece.  The grave location II.A.5.  The cemetery is on an island in the Cyclades, about 75 miles south-east of Athens.  The cemetery was made in 1921, to take the scattered British War graves from the islands of the Cyclades.  In total there are 111 War Graves registered. 

The commemoration on the grave in the cemetery has been recorded by the Berkshire Family History Society but the author has mislaid the details of the headstone inscription.

Stanley Durman

Stanley Durman
Private L/10750 The 7th Battalion
Queens (Royal West Surrey) Battalion.

 Division 71 Extension

Durman S photo Durman D grave

Stanley Durman died on 1st July 1916.  He was the son of Alfred and Maria Durman, of 58, Francis Street, Reading.  He is commemorated on the family grave. Number 17859.   Berkshire Family History Society classification 71G10.

The 1911 census indicates that he was a cutter-up in the sugar wafer department of  Huntley and Palmers. However, his name was not recorded on the depatment’s memorial. His father worked as a porter for a timber merchant and his older brother as a house painter.

 Stanley Durman’s older brother  Alfred  Stephen Durman, also served in the war.  He was a stretcher-bearer of the Royal Berkshire Regiment who was wounded, date not known, and as a result had his left leg amputated.  

Pictures of Private Durman killed 1st July 1916 bear different captions. One stated that his Regiment was the 2nd Royal Berkshire Regiment the other simply Royal Berkshire Regiment.  The addresses on the pictures are identical.  It was not uncommon to transfer men between battalions to make up for losses.  The 7th Queens and 6th Royal Berkshire were in the same Division – the 18th (Eastern) Division. 

An interesting incident illustrates the closeness of the units.  Both units were attacking towards the village of Montauban on the first day of the Somme battles.   When Breslau Trench was captured a wounded German machine gunner was caught, he was found chained to his gun by his ankle.  The initial capture was attributed to the 6th Royal Berks., but was finally confirmed as a capture by the 7th Queens.  (Public Records Office CAB/189).  On 1st July, the 7th Queens attacked at 7.30a.m.  The first advance was held up by heavy fire in front of Breslau support trench, possibly by the same machine gunner.  Later the 7th Queens fought on through Back Trench and Train Ally to Montauban Ally.  The War Diary records that after 12 hours fighting the final objective was reached and consolidated on a front of 200 yards. 

Albert E Shore & Arthur William Shore

Albert Shore
Private 7396
1st Battalion Gloucestershire Regt.

Division 80

Shore AE photo Shore AW photo

Albert Shore was the eldest son of Edward and Alice Shore, of 124, Liverpool Road, Reading.  He is commemorated, with his brother, on a shield on his parents’ grave.  Grave number 17093; The Berkshire Family History Society grave classification is 80B10.    Albert and Arthur died within three weeks of each other in November 1914.

 Albert Shore was recorded in the 1911 census as a general labourer but it is known that he had been a regular soldier, as a Reservist of three years he would have been called up immediately upon the outbreak of war.  He probably experienced the early battles of the war at Mons, the retreat from Mons, the Marne, the Aisne and the First Battle for Ypres. During the first week of November, the battalion, fought around Inverness Copse, Sanctuary Wood and Railway Wood.  On the 6th November they advanced the front line towards Zwartellen.  On the 7th November they came under heavy fire from the east of the village.  Albert Shore was killed in action on 7th November 1914.

 The war historian of the regiment recorded that many men were forced to lie out in the open all day, unable to get back to their line.  43 men were killed, 47 wounded and 8 missing.  At roll call only 3 officers and 213 men were present.  The previous month there had been 25 officers and 970 men.  The body of Albert Shore was never found and his name was accordingly recorded on the Ypres Memorial to the Missing the Menin Gate he is commemorated on Panel 22 and 34.

 Albert was initially been recorded as missing and it was not until December that two men reported to an Infantry Record Officer, Corporal Ryder, that Shore had been shot and they believed him dead.  The report was confirmed and reported on April 17th 1915.   We are told in the Standard report that he had been a Reservist for three years and before the war had worked as a warehouseman at Messers Kingham’s, Kings Road.  He left a widow and a child of three.  It isbelieved that his wife’s name was Poly Birdand that they married in 1911.

Arthur William Shore
Able Seaman 239119  
HMS “Bulwark”

Arthur Shore was the brother of Albert. He was lost at sea on the 26 November 1914. His name is commemorated upon the Portmouth Naval Memorial. He was 25 years old. On this day the Bulwark sank off Sheerness after an explosion that killed almost all the 700 ratings and the officers on board. Several sites on the internet give details of the disaster and the coroners report of ‘Accidental Death’.