Two men with a local connection died on 23rd November 1918 – Private Reuben Henry Barfoot, 100th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps died of pneumonia, and Private Ernest George Moore, 620 Agricultural Company, Labour Corps, died of influenza.
Reuben Henry Barfoot, apparently known as Henry, was born in Coventry on 8th December 1892 and was the only son of parents, Reuben (a greyhound trainer) and Catherine (née Amos) who had married in Coventry in 1892. The couple’s only other child, a daughter, Margaret, was born in 1894 and married Frank E. Hayward in 1928. She died in Coventry in 1991, aged 96.
By the age of 18, Henry had become a gardener and was living with his parents and sister in Wappenbury, near Leamington Spa. His father, Reuben, appears in trade directories in Wappenbury until at least 1916, listed as a farmer in 1904, and then as a coachman in subsequent years. The family moved to Bradnock’s Marsh sometime between 1916 and c. 1920.
Reuben Henry Barfoot volunteered for war service, first joining the Warwickshire Yeomanry before transferring to the Machine Gun Corps. He first entered a Theatre of War on 6th November 1915 and died in France of pneumonia twelve days after the Armistice. He is buried at Etaples Military Cemetery and is commemorated locally on Berkswell war memorial. His name is also included on the war memorial at St John the Baptist Church, Wappenbury.
Ernest George Moore was born in 1893 in Holywell, Rowington and was the sixth of the seven children (four sons, three daughters) of parents James (an agricultural labourer) and Amelia (née Grant) who had married in 1884. One of the children, Violet Elizabeth, died in May 1887, aged nine months.
By the age of 18, Ernest was working as a gardener. We don’t know when he enlisted in the Army but he didn’t see any overseas service before 1916. He initially served with the Royal Berkshire Regiment and saw service overseas with that regiment. However, it seems likely that he was wounded or became ill, as he was transferred to the Labour Corps.
At the time of his death, he was serving with 620 Agricultural Committee, the headquarters of which was in Warwick. Agricultural Companies were formed from soldiers who were no longer fit for front-line combat duties. They had the task of working the land, which was vital to ensure food production was sustained when so many ex-farm workers were in the Armed Forces or had been killed or injured. In 1918, the War Office raised the age of conscription to 51 but the older conscripts could choose to serve with an Agricultural Company instead of on the front line.
Private Ernest George Moore died at home of influenza and is buried at Rowington parish church. His is the only Commonwealth War Grave in the churchyard. He is also commemorated on Rowington war memorial.
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Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
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