Rouvray involvement in Wars - World War I

Thomas Edward Rouvray (1889 - 1980)

It is well known the story of Hitler and what happened to him during WWI.  Less well known is the story of Thomas Edward Rouvray, born just 5 days prior to Hitler on the 15th April 1889, and his experiences during WWI. Thomas Edward Rouvray is the brother of  Henry Louis, born 1887, and the son of  Henry Louis, born 1866. So let us pause for thought for a moment and recollect what happened to our own flesh and blood during that most horrific period - the First World War.

A plethora of documents pertaining to his WWI military life exists and from these it is possible to piece together what happened to our relative during this time.

From his army Enlistment form we see that he has swapped his birth names around to Edward Thomas and lives in Woodford, London where he joined the army on 15th November 1914 as recruit number 17373. He probably volunteered as conscription was not yet necessary. The next day in Hilsea, Portsmouth he joined the Royal Field Artillery 14th Battalion.

Thomas Edward Army Enlistment form Thomas Edward Army Attestation form
Thomas Edward army enlistment form Thomas Edward army attestation form

On his army Attestation form we see that he came from Wood Green, North London and was a flower pot maker. He swears his allegiance to King George V and to defend him in person against all enemies and obey all orders of superior officers.

Also given are details of his wife Helen whom he married in 1911. These are important as she will be notified if he dies. She, herself, died in 1975. We note that, at this time, he has two daughters, Winifred and Florence Mary. Florence Mary barely 7 months old would, sadly, only live until 12 and died in 1926.

From his military history record we glean that he spent the first 278 days of his army service in England presumably in training. From his conduct record we see that he was a driver, presumably transporting troops, supplies and artillery pieces. He committed two offences namely neglect of duty for which he was confined to barracks for 3 days and overstaying his leave for which he was confined to barracks for 4 days and docked 2 days’ pay.

Thomas Edward after the Battle of the Somme, Nov 1916 Thomas Edward Army Casualty form
Thomas Edward army enlistment form Thomas Edward army attestation form

He was then posted on 30th August 1915 to France as part of the Expeditionary Force where he managed to survive for the next 2½ years.

The rare photo above was taken immediately after the battle of the Somme. Edward is the figure on the far left (with a blanket over his shoulder). The stretcher bearers are German POWs’. If you look closely, you can just make out a British soldier and trenches to the right and near the knee of the second stretcher bearer.

The photo was taken by an ‘Evening News’ photographer and published on the front page of the newspaper. At the time, Edward’s brother George was selling newspapers beside Lordship Lane at the Jolly Butchers Hill  end in Wood Green (the site would now be alongside the Wood Green Tube Station). George got copies of the photo from the ‘Evening News’.

On the 28th March 1918 he receives a head wound initially thought to be a mild gunshot wound. He is returned to England and admitted to hospital in St Albans being diagnosed as having a slight shrapnel wound to the forehead.

Thomas Edward Conduct form Thomas Edward Military history sheet
Thomas Edward military history Thomas Edward dsipersal form

After 4 months convalescing he is discharged from hospital in July 1918 and returned to France. Although the war finishes in November 1918 he remains in France until June 1919. He then finally returns home via Antwerp and is transferred to the Army Reserves in Woolwich. He is demobilised on 31st March 1920 at the dispersal centre, Crystal Palace, London, having been in the army for over 5 years.

Thomas Edward Demobilisation Crystal Palace 1920 Army Discharge form 1920
Thomas Edward Demobilisation Crystal Palace 1920 Army Discharge form 1920

He is awarded 3 medals - the 1914-15 campaign medal Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. These 3 medals were usually issued together. As his injury is relatively minor he is not eligible for any disability payments which we see from his Disability Waiver Form.

Thomas Edward went on to have a total of 6 children. He passed away in 1980 aged 90 years old in Bounds Green, North London.

Disability waiver

Thomas Edward medals

1914-15 Star      British War Medal       Victory Medal

Thomas Edward Disability Waiver form Thomas Edward medals

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