John Piggott Wheeler M.C.
Major – “D” Battery,
92nd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery
John Piggott Wheeler, was the youngest son of Samuel Wheeler and Elizabeth Wheeler of, 30, Craven Road, Reading. He is commemorated on a family memorial in the corner of Division. John Wheeler was born in June 1892, and entered the Royal Artillery from the Territorial Force in August 1914.
He received his M.C. for “Conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He, with great coolness and disregard of danger, reorganised his drivers and teams, and succeeded in getting his guns into action under the most trying conditions”.
He was killed in action on 29th October 1917, aged 25. He is buried in Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery, Belgium, location Plot 9, Row E. Grave 23.
Lieutenant C.C. Okey Taylor
3rd Battalion East Kent Regiment (The Buffs) & Trench Motar Battery
Cedric Charles Okey Taylor was the grandson of a local Reading dignitary. His death is reported in The Chronicle of 15th December 1916.
“Attached to the Trench Motor Battery Z/14, 14th Division, BEF, France, fell in action on Sunday, December 3rd 1916. He was not quite 22 years of age and the only son of Mrs. Taylor, of 31, Weltje Road, Ravenscroft Park, London, and the late Charles Warmsley Taylor, of Reading.”
His Captain communicated the news to his mother.
“He was at a gun position with his men when the dug-out was blown in. His death must have been instantaneous, and two of his men were killed with him. We have recovered his body, and he will be buried tomorrow, and as many of his brother officers that are available will attend. I need hardly say how deeply sorry all his friends are, and to me it I is a personal loss, since he has been associated with me longer than any other officer, and we have been together since he joined the Expeditionary Force. One cannot speak too highly of his ability, his devotion to duty, and the keen interest he took in all his men and their welfare. It is a sad loss which we all feel, and offer you our deepest sympathy.”
He is commemorated upon the grave of his grandfather in the Reading Cemetery and is buried in the Faubourg D’Amien Cemetery, Arras. Location I. J.58.
Upon his death he left his estate to his married sister Olive Margaret Okey Allner.
Roland Basil Howell
2nd Lieut. 6th Battalion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry.
Norman Asquith Howell
2nd Lieut. 4th Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment
The Howell brothers were the sons of William Roland Howell and Louisa Margaret Howell, of “Heronden”, Cintra Avenue, Reading. W. Roland Howell was a well known architect at the time. The boys are commemorated on their parents grave, number 15603.
Roland Basil Howell was educated at St. Lawrence College, Ramsgate and volunteered for service in August 1914. He was reported wounded and missing on 2nd October 1915, during the Battle of Loos. He was aged 20. His body was never found and his name is recorded on the Loos memorial, panel 103 to 105. Roland is commemorated on the University College memorial.
Norman Asquith Howell was killed in action on the 23rd December 1916, aged 19. He is buried in the A.I.F. Burial Ground, Flers, Somme. The cemetery was started in November 1916 by Australians who were posted in nearby caves until February 1917. The cemetery was greatly enlarged after the Armistice with graves from the battlefields. It is likely, given the location, III. M. I. that Norman Howell was buried here sometime well after his death.
The Battle of the Somme was officially considered over in November however, heavy fighting did continue for some time in the region of Flers. A bitterly cold winter was also starting to set in and that Christmas was destined to be an uncomfortable one in the trenches with no hope of any truce or informal “live and let live” that had been the case at Christmas time at the beginning of the war.
Both Howell brothers are commemorated on the Reading School War Memorial.