George Lines letter from Bellagio

This letter was written by my Grandfather. George Edward Lines, almost certainly in 1914, when he is working at Schweizerische Lokomotiv- und Maschinenfabrik , and before July, as Arnold Freeman is as yet unmarried.
I have left out some of what Grandpa called “padding”.

I was sorry those few flowers I sent in the envelope turned up in an indistinguishable condition - I was amused at Mouse thinking one might have been a daisy ! - it must have been a mess. So I have sent you a tinfull from Bellagio i.e. if they arrive at all. There were hundreds of varieties and it would be interesting to know how many different kinds are actually in the tin - you can make a sporting event out of it & have guesses. Mrs Freeman & the Twins knew practically all the names but of course I have forgotten them. They told me that they would pick up if totally immersed in water. The blue ones were gentians. That's the only tricky name I can remember. Well, I will tell you something about our holiday. Mrs F & Co. having been to München to fetch Daisy & her friend Bessie, they came thro' Swtiz'd on their way to Italy, and I joined them in the train @ Winterthur1 on Saturday afternoon. There were Mrs F.2 Arnold, Daisy, Dolly & Bessie i.e. 6 of us. We went on to Luzern the same night and stayed there till Monday morning. The Sunday we made an excursion to the Rigi which we climbed (per train). Monday morning we took train through the famous  St Gotthard tunnel, with all sorts of curious spirals etc, to Lugano & then by steamer & train we eventually at Bellagio of which the cards will give you a paltry idea. It is very lovely. It would suit you two down to the ground when you have a Continental honeymoon, only you must go about now as later on it is rather too hot they say. It is quite Italian of course and it all adds to the fun having to try and understand the blighters. We bought books on Italian but did not become very expert and when we did get something simple off our chests like good morning for example, it must have appeared to the natives as tho' we were making a speech. I should very much like to be able to speak it as it has such a musical sound when spoken decently. The Italian names too, I think are very pretty, - Bellagio e.g. You might re-christen Pudding - Susan Bellagio Stevens and Peter, - Peter Stefano Stevens ! They'd be bound to make their mark with them. Well as we did absolutely nothing there's not much to tell. We systematically lazed, eat and slept. We had brekker abt. 8, before which the girls annoyed the other residents in the Hotel by singing German Volksongs. After that & brekker, we got our lunch from the hotel & sloped off with it from abt. 2 miles, sat down & read aloud in turns (Shaw's, Cashel Byron' Profession), eat lunch, more reading & then back to tea by the lakeside to the tune of a violin & mandoline orchestra & Italian songs. The whole effect being very agreeable. Most of the time as you (at least Mummie) may imagine the ladies did that incessant needlework which goes beyond my comprehension. I suppose it corresponds w/smoking & is certainly a greater evil. After tea the usual programme was a stroll to shake tea down & prepare a vacuum for dinner. The said stroll inevitably passed thro' the shops, whose owners we exasperated by looking but not buying, at any rate for the next few days when as you can guess those who had money (i.e. all except me) wasted it on all sorts of Italian oddities of unquestionable worthlessness for numerous grandchildren & other kith & kin. Then came dinner which was rather jolly owing to the homeliness of the hotel and the sense of humour possessed by the waiters & Arnold.
After dinner we usually retired to one of our bedrooms and read aloud and did needlework (i.e. the ladies). The Freemans are all very keen on reading and its certainly not a bad way of passing the time. In any case the taste for reading is useful when one is old & a nuisance to everybody else. Arnold had to return to England on the Thursday owing to his girl's mother begin very ill, so I had 4 ladies to chaperon which not being much of a cavalier, I'm afraid I'm not great shakes at. I wished you had all been with us it would have been like Stoke3 again. Perhaps we shall be able to have another holiday together one of these days. I much prefer the Stoke type of holiday. I'm absolutely fed up with hotels very quickly. I'm rather afraid I shan't get any more time off before Xmas as when I asked for the week they gave me to understand in a rather condescending fashion that no holidays are, properly speaking, allowed in the first 2 years !! but that if I had a week I must consider it as my holidays this year! However if I can manage Xmas I will. Thank goodness I've only got 17 more months here. I think I should go mad if I stayed longer, and I certainly shan't do the latter. I rather hope Dee & Win4 will pay me a visit during the summer. I could weekend w/them. By the bye I read an official lookg. document a few weeks back re the lost letter. It gave small consolation however. There was a lengthy statement to the effect that "There was no trace of same in the British Postal Administration". You can picture for yourself the whole of the G.P.O. turning out drawers etc, and telegraphing the whole world over, in a tireless search.


  1. Winterthur was the headquarters of SLM, where Grandpa was working
  2. Mrs F. – Edith Freeman, widow of George James Freeman, and mother-in-law of Grandpa’s sister, Mary Freeman (neé Lines).
  3. I think this says “Stoke”, but it could be something else, e.g. “Stope”  I think I have seen a reference to walks along the “famous daily climbs up the cliffs at Stoke” which Grandpa took with the Stevens family, so presumably near Bristol.
  4. Winifred Lines (1890-1983), Grandpa’s youngest sister. I assume Dee was a friend of hers, or possibly Edith Lines (1880-1957), Grandpa’s eldest sister.

Famous Freemans

My Great Aunt, Mary Lines, daughter of Joseph Lines, married Ralph Freeman at St Olave, Stoke Newington, Hackney, on the 14th of July 1908.
Ralf Freeman’s father, George James Freeman died on 6th of April 1908, shortly before the wedding.

George James Freeman (~1853 – 1908)

George James Freeman, born about 1853, was the son of James Rykes Freeman, whose mother came from Holland, where James was sent as a young man to learn the cigar business. On his return to England James started his own tobacco business in Wales in 1839, which became JR Freeman and son. They produced several well know brands including Hamlet.
George married Edith Marion Henderson in 1875 and they had six sons and three daughters.
Of the sons,  Donald George Freeman (1877 – 1937), followed him into the cigar business, eventually taking over running the business.
Three of the other sons were sufficiently noteworthy in their own fields to warrant Wikipedia articles.

Ralph Freeman (1880-1950)

As well as marrying my Great Aunt,  Ralph became a famous Civil Engineer, designing,  amongst others, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which celebrated its 75th Birthday in 2016.

Plaque on Sydney Harbour Bridge

Arnold James Freeman (1886-1972)

Arnold Freeman was a writer, philosopher, anthroposophist, adult educator, actor, director, Fabian Socialist, Labour Party candidate and co-founder of the anthroposophical magazine, The Golden Blade. He was the founder and first Warden of the Sheffield Educational Settlement.
In the Wikipedia article it says that  “He and his sister Daisy spent a year at the Quaker Settlement in Woodbrooke,” –  Daisy will be (probably) Ada Marion Freeman – see below.
He was also probably the Anthony Freeman who was one of the witnesses, along with Joseph Lines, as the marriage of Ralph Freeman to Mary Lines in 1908.

Peter Bernard William Freeman (1888-1956)

Peter Freeman was Labour MP for Newport from 1945 to 1956.
He as also a director of J.R. Freeman Cigars, despite being a non-smoker, and is credited with inventing the brand name Manikin.
He was a keen tennis player and Lawn Tennis Champion of Wales three times, as well as being a vegetarian and writer on Vegetarianism.
He married Ella Drummond Torrance, daughter of Andrew Mitchell Torrance, Liberal MP for Glasgow Central from 1906 to 1909.

The daughters

Edith Elizabeth Freeman – born 1885, shown as Patty E. in the 1901 Census. She married James Edmonson, 1st Baron Sandford who was Conservative MP for Banbury from 1922 to 1945.

The Twins

Ada Marion Freeman – born 1895. Known in the family as Daisy. She became a doctor and was the family doctor of George Bernard Shaw.
Ellen Dorothy Freeman –  born 1895.  Known in the family as Dolly.

John Robert Box

John Robert Box was my Great Grandfather. He was Born on 17 August 1849 at  21, Upper Charles St, Clerkenwell, and died Died on 17 June 1926 at Lynwood, Emsworth , Hampshire aged  76.


He went to Highgate School, which was known in those days as Roger Cholmeley School, after is founder, Sir Roger Cholmeley. He was a pupil from September 1860 to April 1868.

He was awarded a copy of Richard Whatley‘s commentaries on Bacon’s Essays as School Mathematics  Prize in 1868.


He was a nurseryman, Begonia specialist, Seed Merchant.
In the 1861 Census he is visiting his Great Uncle, George Braund, who was a Linen Draper in Dartford, Kent at the time.
In the 1871 Census he would have been 21, but is not in his parents household and is probably at the home of Robert Bryson, his uncle in Edinburgh.
In the 1881 Census he was 31 and living with his parents, in Hornsey,  at 1 ??Caln Terrace, and his occupation is “Seedsman, Nurseryman and Florist at 7, ??Dest (possibly Forest??) Hill, Kent employing 50 men and boys”
His advertisement in The Gardeners Chronicle of 1887 says

BEGONIA SEED.- Box's Jubilee varieties,
choicest from latest prize singles, per packet, ls. and
2s. 6d; double, the most reliable, very special, per packet,
2s. 6d. and 5s; very extra pure double white, per packet, 5s.
and 10s. Sow now. See other Advertisement of Tubers.
J. R. BOX (for last ten years J. Laing's partner), Surrey
Seed Warehouse, Croydon.

John Laing (whose catalogue from 1894 is shown below) was another Begonia specialist.

Note that this would tie in with John Box 1881 Census entry being Forest Hill as that is where John Laing’s nursery was.
John Box advertised in The Gardeners Chronicle of January to June 1894 where his advertisement reads

BOX'S BEGONIA SEED.— For germination
and quality of flowers superior to all others. Per
packet, single mixed, 1s. and 2s. 6d. ; larger packets, 5s. ;
double mixed, packets. 1s. Qd. and 2s. 6rf. ; larger packets, 5s.
Sow now. Ask for PRICE LIST of Tubers, and Pamphlet
on Culture.
JOHN R. BOX, Seedsman and Begonia Grower, Croydon.

Begonia culture for amateurs says

I have never been able to obtain such good results, either in germinating power or in quality, from bought seed (single or double) as from that of my own saving ; but I may perhaps be allowed to say that by far the best Begonia seed, double especially, I have ever obtained was from Mr. J. R. Box, of Croydon ; both in quality and germinating power nothing better could be desired.

It is possible that the Begonia Rosie Box was named after his eldest daughter Rosina.

In the 1891 Census he was living at 65, Wellesley Road, Croydon, Surrey, England, with Ada, Rosina, Leonard, Dorothy and Margaret, as well as Margaret Waller (22), a Nurse, and Jessica Giles (18), a general domestic servant.

In 1918 he was living at 80, Northampton Road, Croydon (OSM), as  The Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Home and Foreign Service writes to him at this address, reassuring him about his daughter, Margaret, who had gone off as  a volunteer nurse in Serbia.


He married Ada Webster on 6th February 1894 at He had one son, my Grandfather – Leonard Box (1886 – 1967) and five daughters, Rosina Janet Braund Box (1884-1969), Dorothy Box (1887-?), Edith Mary Box (1889-1959), Margaret Ada Box (1890-1986), Norah Constance Box (1898-1987).

From Hotel Mittelhauser in Cologne – 14th August 1913

My Grandfather wrote from the Hotel Mittelhauser in Cologne on 14th August 1913.


This is probably the right hotel. (Note that it does not show up on the published page  – but click the link to see it)

Hôtel Mittelhäuser Cöln.
Fernsprecher No 611
Cöln, den 14 August 1913
Am Haupbahnhof, Dom und Hauptpost
Dear Mummie & Daddie/
Just a line to help keep my English in form. Thought I must admit that up to the present my German seems limited to enquiring for the way and for grub.
However grub seems to be the one and and object of existence over here; no wonder the Germans are so fat.
 You will see I have arrived at Cologne where the "Eau de" comes from. This is really the start of my campaign for a job. Horrid thought !
 I got your card just before I left London - fancy troubling when in the grip of Sciatica. I'm so sorry, because I know it must be pretty bad, for you to ?strike.
 You really must try my infernal machine !
No more 60 mile cycle rides, unless you take at least 2 days over it. If I cycled 60 miles in one day I should have all the -aticas under the sun.
 When at Hamburg I paid a visit to Hagenbecks Zoo. The kiddies would have loved it. The animals are more or less in natural surroundings and are kept from devouring the spectators by trenches or parapets. One of these days a specially expert bear will give an extra long leap & set up a record.
 In one place there were dogs, wolves, teddy bears and lion cubs and a hyaena all living in perfect bliss. The teddy bears were the cheekiest though, and seemed to rule the roost. The hyaena was a surly beggar.
 It is funny here to see dogs helping to pull carts in the streets; everyone seems to work and the women hardest of all. But I suspect the Manager at 3 Abbey Gardens, could give them points. Everyone seems to be in an official position here, and really you could mistake the policeman for field-marshals. They are all very good tempered however and I am no longer frightened of them. By the by, I have seen hundreds of our old friends the British-Holsteins over here. Apparently it is their native place.
 I have been getting lovely peaches for about 6d a pound off the street merchants, but in the shops as soon as they see you’re an Englishman they try & do you. Will I'm rather tired after tramping all day, and being by oneself seems to tire more quickly - so I'll get me to bed - the latter are very comic and consist of a series of different sized pillows & bolsters. Love to all Chief.

Also – diagonally at the top left is written

So sorry to hear abt. Uncle Willie. I never had the pleasure of meeting him byt I am sure he must have been very sweet from what you've told me

3, Abbey Gardens, Keynsham, near Bristol was, presumably, the home of the Stevens family at the time. It does not appear to exist today,  probably its location was under the A4 Keynsham Bypass, close to the site of Keynsham Abbey.

Farming at Grove Farm, Box, Wiltshire

My Grandparents moved into Grove Farm, at Box in Wiltshire some time after the First World War. As they married on 19th August 1922, and Grandpa was discharged from the army on 8th April 1919, it is quite likely that he moved to the farm before 1922.

Grove Farm

Map of Grove Farm courtesy of Steve Wheeler

Grove Farm is a Grade II Listed Building, (or more accurately two terraced houses on the farm are).
Grove Farm, Box Hill, is quite an isolated area which grew up very quickly with stone quarrying after Box Tunnel was built in 1841. The farm was owned by the Northey family, lords of the manor 1726 – 1919, then put up for auction on 24 May 1923, possibly selling (with sitting tenant) to Fred Neate, who owned a considerable amount of land in the area.

It’s called Grove House on the auction Sale Particulars map above where the area farmed by GE Lines is shown pink, comprising 43 acres, 3 roods, 14 perches, described as Valuable Dairy Farm. The farm house was on 3 floors with gas and water supplied which appear to have been installed by the tenant (possibly my Grandfather). The dairy appears to have been a 6-tie cow-stall.
It is on the fringe of Box Hill Common, which was bought by the council for public access after a huge argument in 1970s about developing it.
Thanks to Alan of for the above information.

Farming at Grove Farm

He was probably farming there by 1922, as according to page 74 of “From G&J to Tri-ang” – written by Peggy Lines and privately published – the origin of the name Pedigree came via a visit to the farm:

Then, in 1922, the problem was solved in a somewhat unlikely manner when Will and Walter visited their brother George at his farm in Gloucestershire where he was trying to raise a heard of pedigree pigs. There and then, amidst all the mud and muck which those animals create, the brothers agreed that Pedigree was just the name they had been looking for to describe their beautiful new prams!

I suspect this should be Wiltshire.
While at the farm he sold eggs and chickens

Mr Lines selling Pure, Fertile Eggs at 4s per dozen at the farm plus a variety of cockerels, ducks and specialist hens.

from The Bath Chronicle, 27 January 1923

Mr Lines selling Light Sussex, White Leghorn, Barneveld, Pekin (sic) Drake, White Runners... Inspection Invited

from The Bath Chronicle, 15 March 1924

Thanks to Alan, from for these references.

My Grandmother used to deliver eggs, riding a motorbike with sidecar. This may have been the same motorbike and sidecar which was later used by my uncle Michael and aunt Fanny on their many visits to the Coastguard Cottage at Birling Gap.

Leaving the farm

According to “From G&J to Triang” – page 106

George joined his father in 1923

However I suspect it was later than this as my Uncle Michael, born 16th March 1924, had his birth registered in the Chippenham registration district, whereas my father, Roger, born 12th May 1926, was born in Southgate.
The farm, along with the whole village of Box, struggled in the Great Depression after the war, as chronicled in and this surely was a major factor in my Grandfather giving up the farming he loved to go and help his father in the G&J Lines toy business. It is also probable that the death of his mother, Jane, on 7th June 1925 influenced the decision.

Connections around Box

Box Tunnel

It is possible that one of the things which attracted my Grandfather, as an Engineer by training, to the area was Brunel‘s famous Box Tunnel, which allows the Great Western Railway to pass through the hill on its way from London to Bristol.
Coincidentally Pendon Museum, which is has a large model of the Vale of the White Horse, where I used to live and work, incorporates the Box Tunnel into its scene (there being no suitable tunnel in the Vale to suit the layout).


When he moved away from Grove Farm my Grandfather called the house he rented in Cheam “Pickwick”, and then the house he had built in Kingswood was also named “Pickwick”.
Pickwick is a now part of Corsham, but was probably still a separate hamlet when my Grandfather lived in the area.  A baby boy was found in this area around 1748, and was named Moses Pickwick. His grandson, Eleneazer Pickwick, became a successful businessman, running a coaching business, and it believed that Charles Dickens named his main character in The Pickwick Papers, after the name he saw on coaches on the Bristol to Bath route. My uncle and father then named their family newspaper “The Pickwick Paper“, after the novel by Dickens.

George Edward Lines

George Edward Lines was my Grandfather. He was the son of Joseph Lines and Jane (née Fitzhenry).
A poetic summary of his life can be found in ‘Ode to a Nonagenarian
He was  a prolific letter writer, and I have inherited some of the ones he wrote, which I have used to piece together some of his life story.
In the following OSM links are to OpenStreetmap maps.
He was born in Islington (OSM) on 28th January 1888.
Before the war he went to Germany looking for work there.

His Official War record shows the documented history of his recruitment, wounding in action and being awarded the Military Cross.
His letters written during the war show the more personal side.

He married Doris Joan Stevens, my Grandmother, on the 19th August 1922.
After the war he farmed at Grove Farm, Box (OSM) for a while, until the Depression and his father’s need for his help with the family business sent him back to London.
After the death of his father he worked for Lines Brothers, the toy company founded by his brothers, until he retired.
They were living on Anne Boleyns Walk, Cheam, Surrey (OSM) in 1932,  when Tim was born.

The Cottage,
55, Anne Boleyn's Walk,
Cheam, Surrey
 Tel. Sutton 3081

They moved into  Pickwick, Warren Drive, Kingswood, Surrey (OSM) in 1935 – they had it built – and were still living there in1957.

Joseph Lines

Joseph Lines was my Great Grandfather. He formed the company G&J Lines with his brother George. They primarily made rocking horses.
He attended St Andrews School, Camden, starting, aged 7, on October 1855. His Disposition and Attitude was shown, when admitted as ‘Can read a little’. He was admitted into the 5th class.. At the time of quitting school, in August 1861 he was in the 1st class. His parents, Abel and Jane Lines, were living at 91, Saffron Hall. Abel’s occupation was Skin Dresser, and there were 7 children in the family. The cause of leaving was ‘Gone to work’ and his character was ‘Very Good’. In those days teachers did not hide their opinions, one of his fellow pupils is described as ‘a tiresome boy’
He had eight children,

  1. William (1879 – 1963)
  2. Edith (1880 – 1957)
  3. Walter (1882 – 1972)
  4. Mary (1883 – 1958)
  5. Rosa (1885 – 1889)
  6. George (1888 – 1983) – My Grandfather.
  7. Winifred (1890 – 1983)
  8. Arthur (1992 – 1962)

According to Search for Lines and 1932 (he died 31st December 1931):

Lines Joseph of 141 Lordship Road Stoke Newington Middlesex
died 31 December 1931 Probate London 4 March to George
Edward Lines manufacturer and Leonard Herbert Graves
incorporated accountant. Effects £33543 9s 7d

(this post is a bit of a place holder – I will add more information later)

George Edward Lines – Pictures

I have some pictures of my Grandfather, George Edward Lines, taken by my cousin some years ago, from pictures in a family album. I hope to add more information about who is in them as I work it out.

Lines Family
The Lines family.

My Grandfather was one of four brothers and four sisters. I believe the distinguished gentlemen in the centre is my Great Grandfather Joseph Lines. His sons were:

  • William – born 1879
  • Walter – born 1882
  • George – born 1888
  • Arthur – born 1892

His daughters were

  • Edith – born 1880
  • Mary – born 1883
  • Rosa – born 1885
  • Winifred – born 1890

My Grandfather, George Lines is in the centre, possibly with his father Joseph behind to the right, and his possibly his uncle George to the left
My Grandfather on the right again, with my Grandmother on the left.
My Grandfather and Great Grandfather.

George Edward Lines Joseph Lines


Letter from George Lines, 11th February 1915, from The Bury, Chesham

This is a letter from my Grandfather, George Edward Lines, written on the 11th of February 1915.  I am gradually scanning and transcribing his letters, and will add notes as I find more information. For context you can see his Official War Record. This will come between his being commissioned in December 1914 and his going to France.

The Bury




Dear Mummie/
At last I've got a moment to write to you as I've been inoculated today & so have to lie down for a bit. I believe I told you I was going to Wendover, but my Company & station were altered at the last moment, and I am now in the 98th Company at Chesham for about a month when we go to Henley for pontooning and afterwards to Wendover where my own permanent camp will be in huts.
We are in billets here, officers & men alike, and the billet where the officers of my Co. are is the above address. There are Major Coffin our O.C.Company, four other subalterns besides myself the Adjutant, Medical Officer and of course our Host and Hostess Squire and Mrs Lowndes.It is a most priceless place with abt. 230 acres of grounds, so I seem to be rather lucky in my billets, don't I ?. There are two little kiddies, girls abt. 7 and 10, who seem to regard us subalterns as big brothers for playing with, with the result that our behavior at times is hardly as dignified as one would expect from Officers of the British Army. There are two other children; the son & heir about 17 at Eton and another girl about 14. I suspect the boy is a ??reglar ??nut.
The youngest kiddie is Joane and the other Cicelie. They are awfully nice people but everything is done in such style that one doesn't feel always exactly at home. Perhaps it is because I've been away from civilisation too long.
Mrs Lowndes showed me their genealogical tree last Sunday. It is a most enormous scroll of parchment and goes right back to William the Conqueror through all sorts of royalty, so I suppose we ought to be frightfully impressed. It was a very interesting example of Heraldic art. At present being the 5th Subaltern in our Coy. I'm acting as Supernumerary but the Major tells me he wants me to look after the horses and drivers when we get them. I think there are about 70 horses in a Field Coy. so there are exciting times ahead teaching people to ride and breaking horses in etc., to say nothing of being a sort of rest. I shall have to cultivate a horsey expression. Have you any suggestions ?
In addition to this I am supposed to know all the Infantry work, and of course building, trenching, so if I don't get swelled head I ought to. The worst of it is I get so little time to write of you and Mouse, but I know you'll forgive me. Now I've really got to my Coy. I shall have to stick to it like the dickens or I shall be getting ticked off.
We were inspected by the General Commanding ??our Division [section eaten]. It was most awful - we stood stock still for an hour while he came round. The General and his staff came to our place for lunch, but owning to the limitations of table room four of us junior subalterns had to partake of grub in the sitting room with the kiddies for which we were very thankful. It was much nicer.
Isn't it promising being under an O.C. of the name of Coffin & then to be billeted in The "Bury". He's an awfully decent sort, rather quiet, but very sound I think. I expect I shall feel pretty rotten tomorrow, but of course have a have a day off. I'm going to write mousie a nice long letter having neglected her for so long. I feel an awful brute but blame it on Kaiser Bill.
Write to me as soon as you can & tell me how you're going on in the new house.
Heaps of love to all



It seems the inoculation referred to was for Typhoid – this was relatively recently widely available, as there had been opposition to introducing it as a compulsory vaccination for soldiers due to a campaign promoting personal choice.

The Bury

Lowndes Family

Squire Lowndes was probably descended from William Lowndes – which would explain the family tree. This still exists, and according to the National Archive is held by Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies

The Pedigree roll can be viewed at (Warning – required Flash)

98th Company

The Official War Record shows Grandpa was assigned to the 126th Field Company, but he from this letter he was with the 98th for a while.
According to  The Wartime Memories Project

98th Field Company, The Royal Engineers was raised as part of 21st Division. 21st Division was established in September 1914, as part Kitchener's Third New Army. The Division concentrated in the Tring area, training at Halton Park before winter necessitated a move into local billets in Chesham In May 1915 they moved to Wendover. On the 9th of August they moved to Witley Camp for final training. They proceeded to France during the first week of September and marched across France to going into the reserve for the British assault at Loos on the 26th of September suffering heavy casualties....

From the 98th Field Company were attached to the 21st Division, and Joined the 21st Division at Chesham on 30 Jan 1915 and moved to Wendover in May 1915.
Here’s a useful explanation of the composition of a Field Company – which also refers to around 70 horses Composition of a Royal Engineers’ Field Company – The Long, Long Trail (and the picture shows ‘pontoon work’ which Grandpa was to go on to do at Henley).
I do not know when, or if, Grandpa moved back the 126th Field Company, but their entry from the Wartime Memories Project shows that they

126th Field Company, The Royal Engineers joined 21st Division in March 1915 at Chesham. In May 1915 they moved to Wendover. On the 9th of August they moved to Witley Camp for final training. They proceeded to France during the first week of September and marched across France to going into the reserve for the British assault at Loos on the 26th of September suffering heavy casualties. ...


Building pontoon bridges was an important skill for the Royal Engineers. There is a video of Bridge Building at

Major Coffin

It is possible that this is Clifford Coffin – who received a Victoria Cross in July 1917, at which time he was a temporary brigadier general, which can be a temporary promotion from a Lieutenant-Colonel. shows that Clifford Coffin was a Lieutenant-Colonel in January 1917 and this is one step up from Major, which is the rank an Officer Commanding (O.C.) a Company would have held.
It appears from the South Africa Medal records that Captain Clifford Coffin was attached to the 17th Field Company in 1901, and to the 20th Field Company in 1903, so it would be quite feasible for him to be a Major, commanding the 98th Field Company in 1914.
His listing in Hart’s Annual Army List 1908 shows that he was a 2nd Lieut. on 17th February 1888, a Lieut. on 17th February 1891, a Captain on 17th February 1899, and  a Major on 18th January 1907.

Training at Lowndes Park

During the First World War Lowndes Park was used as a military training ground. Contingents of the Royal Engineers were given practical instructions in bridge building across the shallow waters in the lake (Skottowe’s Pond).

Thanks to my brother for notes on inoculation, research into the Lowndes Family Roll, Field companies and pontooning video.

HTML in WordPress

I have been writing HTML, by hand – as that was the only way you could write when it first came out, ever since it was invented. Before that I had been using the DEC format program and IBM GML for some time, so the concept of a markup language was familiar.
As my previous web site was hosted on Demon’s homepage service, it was written in vanilla HTML. Since I read HTML  manuals and used it to experiment, there were features I missed – many of which have been around since the early days of the web – which are not directly available in the excellent WordPress visual editor.

Tooltips (<span> with <title>)

By using a construct like

<span title="Eating, and thinking !">Easter Quiz and Baked Potato Meal £1.50</span></p>

you can make a “tooltip” like “Eating, and thinking !” pop up when someone hovers the mouse over the “Easter Quiz…” text. This was used in several places on the old site, and may be retrofitted, but see for an example (18-Mar-2005)

Internal Anchor tags for footnotes in a page

Use something like

Sonnet<sup><a href="#sonnet">1</a></sup> to a Nonagenarian

for the source, and

<li><a id="sonnet"></a>Technically ...</li>

for the target.

Image Maps

  1. Publish the post  or page with the picture which has the image which should have the map.
  2. Download the image from the page to some temporary place.
  3. Fire up GIMP and select Filters/Web/ImageMap
  4. If needed refer to for more detailed instructions
  5. Save the generated Image Map file
  6. Go back to WordPress and edit your page in text mode.
  7. Find the image you downloaded and update its “img” tag with the “usemap=#map” tag, but if you have multiple images on the page change to something like usemap=”#map-g-ggf”
  8. Copy and paste the generated “map” section below the “img” section you updated, but change the name to match the previous page
  9. Update the WordPress post or page and test.

There is an example on the George Edward Lines – Pictures post.