Stephen Alfred Twyman, maternal relative: Labour Corps Oct 1918

Stephen Alfred Twyman was born during 1881 at 121 Hardres St, Ramsgate, Kent, England and was Killed in action serving in the Labour Corps in France on 30 October 1918.

Stephen Alfred Twyman was the brother-in-law of the brother-in-law of one of my third cousins once removed on my maternal line and the actual lineage is:

  • Stephen Alfred Twyman (1881 - 1918)
  • Stephen Twyman (1849 - ) - father of Stephen Alfred Twyman
  • Ellen Eliza Twyman (1883 - 1973) - daughter of Stephen Twyman
  • Henry Frederick (Harry) Pullman (1883 - 1940) - husband of Ellen Eliza Twyman
  • Frederick Mintern Pullman (1847 - 1916) - father of Henry Frederick (Harry) Pullman
  • Ernest Owen Pullman (1886 - 1964) - son of Frederick Mintern Pullman
  • Naomi Ruth Price (1890 - 1973) - wife of Ernest Owen Pullman
  • George Price (1864 - 1897) - father of Naomi Ruth Price
  • Maria Sheward (1840 - 1917) - mother of George Price
  • William Sheward (1810 - 1883) - father of Maria Sheward
  • Edward Sheward (1775 - 1853) - father of William Sheward
  • Richard Sheward (1817 - 1870) - son of Edward Sheward
  • Herbert Sheward (1843 - 1906) - son of Richard Sheward
  • Mary Louisa Sheward (1880 - 1967) - daughter of Herbert Sheward
  • Alice May Priday (1917 - 2009) - daughter of Mary Louisa Sheward
  • William G Hyde - me

His Family

Stephen Alfred Twyman's father, also Stephen Twyman, was born during January 1849 in St Lawrence, Ramsgate, Kent, England and was Gardener by trade. Stephen Alfred's grandfather was also called Stephen Twyman (birthdays & christmas must have been fun in that family!!).

Stephen Twyman senior married Mary Ann Avery in December 1873 in Ramsgate, Kent and set up home at 121 Hardres St, Ramsgate where they set about raising a family of 7 children:

  • Jessie Ann Twyman - (1875 – ?)
  • Rose Louisa Twyman - (1876 – 1972)
  • William Twyman - (1878 – ?)
  • Stephen Alfred Twyman - (1881 – 1918)
  • Nellie Twyman - (1882 – ?)
  • Ellen Eliza Twyman - (1883 – 1973)
  • Ellen Twyman - (1884 – ?)

By 1891, following the death of Mary Ann Avery (Janury 1887), Stephen Twyman senior was living at 6 Harrison Rd, Ramsgate, and had taken in lodgers. He was by now a Gardener (domestic servant). And by 1901 he had moved to 26 Shaftsbury St, Ramsgate and was described as a Market Gardener.

In the 1911 he is shown to be living at 13 York Street, Ramsgate and had become a Fishmonger.

Currrently I hvae no death listed for Stephen Twyman senior.

Stephen Alfred Twyman was born at 121 Hardres St, Ramsgate. By 1901 he had become a Fishmonger and was living with his father at 13 York St.

In July 1912 Stephen Alfred Twyman married Daisy Florence Willmot in Ramsgate. Daisy Florence Willmot was born during October 1891 at Malling, Kent, England and was a Domestic Servant in the household of John Finch (fishmonger) at 23 Queen Street, Ramsgate at the time of her marriage.

Stephen Alfred Twyman & Daisy Florence Willmot lived in Ramsgate, possibly at 13 York St, however they did not raise a family and by 1914 Stephen Alfred was in the Army and at war.

At the time of his death, Daisy Florence Willmot was living at 15, Claremont Gardens, St. Lawrence, Ramsgate and in March 1920 she was remarried to Henry G Fox. I have no death details for Daisy Florence.

His Military Life

When was declared in August 1914, Stephen Alfred soon joined up and became a Private in The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment with regimental number 35584.

The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment 6th, 7th, 8th, 10th and 11th Service Battalions were made up of mainly Kitchener Volunteers. All of them served on the Western Front with distinction. The 7th went to France in 1915 and suffered appalling casualties on the Somme, at Ypres and at Amiens. The 8th lost heavily on the Western Front, particularly at the Somme and in the Third Battle of Ypres. The 10th and 11th were both with the 41st Division in 1916 and were decimated at Fleurs, but later contributed to the campaign in Italy.

stephenalfredtwyman pioneercorpsI do not know precisely which Battalion Stephen Alfred Twyman served in but he was at some point transferred to the 5th Company Labour Corps as a Private & given regimental number 68842.Soldiers that served and got injured but not enough to be discharged or to be sent back to the front fighting units were transferred into the Labour Corps Companies. Each Regiment or Army group had attached Labour Corps who made sure stores & equipemt got to their fighting units. Often this meant building roads (or repairing them), building, maintaining & operating frontline narrow gauge railways or driving mule/horse waggon trains or motor trucks. It almost always meant they were operating close to the front, were in harms way and were vital to the effectiveness of their fighting units.

As far as I have ben able to discover, the 5th Company Labour Corps were part of the Royal Engineers Pioneer Corps.

The British started to send labourers to France in 1915-1916 to work in docks etc. In April 1917 they were formed into a Labour Corps which was to reach 325,000 British soldiers, 98,000 Chinese, 10,000 Africans, 6 Battalions British West Indies Regiment, 300,000 Prisoners of War and contingents from Egypt and Fiji all serving in France in November 1918. They also included non-combatant Companies and Alien Companies. Among its ranks were a number of labour units, originally formed as Battalions of Infantry Regiments. These were of two types, Works Battalions and Labour Battalions. When these were transferred from the infantry to the Labour Corps in the middle of 1917, the Works Battalions were (rather confusingly) re-designated Labour Battalions, while the original Labour Battalions were broken up and reformed as Independent Labour Companies.

Stephen Alfred Twyman was transferred from the 5th Company Labour Corps (one of the original Labour Battalions) to the 115th Company in the Labour Corps 1917 rreorganisation.

Amongst their many duties, they maintained the means of communication and transport, dealt with the movement and handling of munitions and stores, built and repaired structures and fortifications and, the most onerous duty of all, they recovered and buried the war dead.

The only wish of the infantry was that there were many more of them.

His Death & Burial

stephen a twyman cemeteryStephen Alred Twyman was Killed in action on 30 October 1918 somewhere close to Bermerain, France.

Bermerain is a village 1 kilometre south of the straight main road (the Chaussee Brunehaut) which runs from Cambrai to Villers-Pol and is classed as being part of the Somme.

There was obviously a major incident in the area on the 30th October 1918 because the Bermerain Cemetery also includes these soldiers who were in the same 115th Company in the Labour Corps as Stephen Alfred Twyman:

  • W. Hollis. Private.
  • W.E.Leonard. Private.
  • E. Myers. Private. Age 22
  • J. A. Wastell. Private. Age 29

Stephen Alfred Twyman & his pals (abovge) all have the same grave reference of B.9. in Bermerain Communal Cemetery, along with 36 other soldiers. All of military graves are in the South-West quarter of the Cemetery, where they were buried by their comrades in the latter half of October, and the beginning of November, 1918.

Unlike named Regiments or Divisions, precise records of where members of Service & Labour Corps died are scarce, which is a great pity considering that the Army as a whole would have got nowhere without the brave members of the Labour Corps.