Sunday, November 01, 2015

85523 Driver William Pomfrey, 5th DAC, Royal Field Artillery

William Pomfrey was born on 25th February 1893 in Chailey.  He enlisted in The Royal Field Artillery at Guildford on 22nd August 1914, giving his trade or calling as Cowman and his next of kin as his mother, C Jones of Reanor Cottages, Stolingbury St Mary’s, Dorking, Surrey. 

William’s description on enlistment records that he was five feet, three inches tall, weighed 126 pounds, had a ruddy complexion, brown eyes, dark hair and… six moles on his back.  He was given the number 85523, the rank of driver and posted to Number 4 Depot at Woolwich.  On 19th October 1914 he was posted to the 18th Divisional Artillery and then, on the 2nd November that year, to the 18th Divisional Ammunition Column (DAC). 

From his surviving service record it would appear that William did not settle easily into army routine.  On 19th November 1914 he was absent from the Defaulters’ Parade at 6.30am and confined to barracks for seven days.  On 9th January 1915 he was charged with overstaying his leave from 12 noon on 7th January to 9am on the 9th and deprived of two days’ pay.  On 18thJanuary he was charged with being absent from the stables from 4.30pm on the 17th until 7am on the 18thand denied another day’s pay.  Inattention on parade on 5th February cost him another two days confined to barracks and on 22nd February he was charged with being absent without leave from 6.45am on 13th February until 9.30pm on the 22nd.  He forfeited ten days’ pay but otherwise does not appear to have been punished. 

William Pomfrey’s records note that he was posted to RFA 5c Reserve Brigade on 14thFebruary which may or may not have been behind his decision to go absent without leave.  He resumed duties with the Reserve Brigade on 23rd February and managed to stay out of trouble for the next four and a half months before again going absent without leave from 10.30pm on 5th July until 6pm on the 6th July.  For this he forfeited four days’ pay AA and two days’ pay RW. 

Between 27th July and 13th December 1915, William was in France, Chailey Parish Magazine noting in October 1915, Pomfrey, Dvr W, DAC, France. 

Between 14th December 1915 and 17th July 1917, William was back on home soil and being posted to the RFA 5b Reserve Brigade (28th February 1916) and then 20th Reserve Battery (9th January 1917).  On 18th July 1917 he embarked again for France and was posted to the 19th DAC 10/88 Brigade.  His tenure with them did not last long.  By 30th October 1917 he was back home and back with a reserve brigade of artillery. 

On 10th November William Pomfrey got married at West Ham and on 15th December he was mustered, his rank now being Gunner.  On 21st December 1917 he was caught gambling in Woolwich Barracks by Sergeant Bell and confined to barracks for three days.  On 28th January, a daughter, Cecilia Grace Pomfrey was born at Catford. 

William Pomfrey was posted back to France for the last time on 26th August 1918.  This time his rank was Signaller and he was posted to the 5th DAC.  He remained with the 5th Division until demobilization on 1st March 1919.  His Protection Certificate, issued on 1st February 1919, gives his home address as 4 Penberth Road, Catford SE. 

Further documents in his file at Kew indicate that William may have spent time at No 2 General Hospital, Havre and that on another occasion his aunt, Miss Pomfrey of 30 Lansdowne Road, Hove, Sussex, was enquiring about his whereabouts.  His Military History Sheet records that William passed out in signalling. 

In total, twelve misdemeanours, mostly for going absent without leave, are noted on William Pomfrey’s service record although the most severe punishment he ever received was being confined to barracks or losing pay.  As early as November 1916, Chailey Parish Magazine notes that William has been invalided although this is not borne out by his service record.

No comments: