Monday, September 20, 2010

3962 Pte Christopher Barclay, 2/10th King's

3962 Private Christopher Barclay was a patient at Beechland House, Newick in July 1916. His entry in Nurse Oliver’s album is a drawing of a rural idyll framed by a maple leaf. The wording reads:

Wishing you Prosperity and Happiness

Signaller Chris Barclay
2/10th Liverpool Scottish
Convalescent Hospital

Newick 14th July 1916

Chris Barclay enlisted with the King’s (Liverpool Regiment) in Liverpool on 6th November 1914. He gave his age as 20 years and nine months and his address as 24 Bowood Street, Dingle, Liverpool. He appears on the 1901 census of England and Wales living with his family at 51 Wallington (or Wellington) Street, Toxteth, Liverpool. The household comprised: William Barclay (head, married, aged 31, a general labourer), his wife Sarah Barclay (aged 28) and two children: Christopher (aged eight) and Marian Barclay (aged five). Also living with them were William Barclay’s 26 year old sister in law Mary Barclay and her two children: Mary (aged six) and Edith Barclay (aged three). All the family members are recorded as having been born in Liverpool.

I know little of Chris Barclay’s military service. The National Archives holds a medal index card for him as 355813 Private Christopher Barclay of the Liverpool Regiment. This number would have been given to him when the Territorials were re-numbered in early 1917. His earlier TF number is not given which suggests that he did not go overseas until after the Territorial Force had been renumbered.

I am unsure why Christopher Barclay was at Beechlands but his album entry dates his time there precisely. The British Red Cross Society (BRCS) archives in London also holds a letter written by him to Nurse Oliver the following month. (The letter was sent to the BRCS by Nurse Oliver’s nephew, Joe Oliver many years later).

Writing on YMCA stationery from 95 Camp, Mytchett. Aldershot and signing himself as Signaller C Barclay, ‘D” Company, 2/10th Liverpool Scottish, he writes:

Dear Nurse

I must thank you very much for your kindness to me whilst at Chailey and Newick. One does not realize at the time what it means to devote one’s time to the sick, it is only when you are blessed with health and strength once more that you begin to realize the sacrifice made by you nurses. I will always remember my days at Chailey and Newick; the fun we had and the patient way in which you stood all our noise. I think you must have had a splitting headache, especially when my melodious voice was singing? Fellows generally have their favourite nurse, and so I especially thank you Nurse Oliver, but you would greatly oblige me if you conveyed my sincerest thanks to all the other nurses who were so kind to me whilst at Convalescent Hospital. I hear you have a number of new faces up at Beechlands (lucky fellows). It will be a ‘grand old war’ for them.

Reference to Chailey and Newick suggests that Pte Barclay may have been a patient at Hickwells when Sussex 54 VAD upped sticks and moved to Beechland House a few hundred yards away. In any event, he continued serving with the 1/10th King’s when the 2/10th was subsumed by it in April 1918 and appears to have survived the war.

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