On this day in 1916, Allen Rendle (1892-1916) died on the Western Front in the Great War.
A corporal in the 8th (Service) Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment, he was 24 when he lost his life at Ville-sur-Ancre on the Somme.
His battalion marched to billets in Ville-sur-Ancre on February 12 after spending a week in trenches at nearby Becordel-Becourt.
In the following two days, the 8th Devons provided working parties to build roads and repair heavily-damaged, waterlogged trenches.
Allen, who was born in Modbury, Devon went to France on July 25, 1915 and fought in the Battle of Loos in September that year.
He was on the front line at Christmas 1915 when – as a result of a children’s concert held in November that year in Modbury – parcels were sent to all 30 men from the town on war service.
The parish magazine recorded that £2 had been spent on wool, which the girls of the local girls’ school made into socks and mufflers, for use as required.
The contents of the parcels varied: all had a khaki handkerchief, boot laces, soap, Oxo and matches.
The older men had tobacco and cigarettes; the younger ones received cigarettes and sweets or chocolates. Candles and disinfecting powder were provided for those in the trenches.
Allen sent a letter of thanks for the parcels.
He wrote: ‘I must thank you for the parcel I received today. It came quite as a surprise to me, but these surprise parcels are often very welcome.
‘For instance, I was at my wit’s end to get a candles, not one of the boys had one. When your parcel arrived, you can guess how pleased I was when I came across the candles.
‘I was also very glad to receive coffee tablets; I am thinking of having some for supper – shall have pleasant thoughts of Modbury when I am drinking it.
‘I am glad to say I am getting on all right up to the present.
‘The trenches are in an awful state in some places, in fact we have been standing knee deep in water.
‘All we are looking forward to now is leave, which we hope to get soon, and then I hope to see Modbury again.’
His letter was published in the February 1916 edition of the parish magazine – in the month he lost his life.
Allen, who died on February 14, 1916 is commemorated at Ville-sur-Ancre Communal Cemetery on the Somme.
He is also remembered on Modbury War Memorial.
Born in 1892 in Modbury, Allen was one of nine children of baker George Rendle (1854-1938) and Annie May Rendle (1855-1927).
Allen’s sister, Sophia May Rendle (1884-1941), married Frederick Charles Johns (1879-1936) in 1909 in Kingsbridge. Frederick was the son of Thomas Johns (1840-1893) and Caroline Roberts (1847-1921). Caroline was the youngest sister of my great-great grandfather John Roberts (1829-1919), who had a record 30 grandsons serving in the Great War.
Modbury Memorial and how Allen is remembered on it. Pictures published online under Modbury Obelisk by Imperial War Museums: © Mark Newton 17.09.2015 (WMR-25626).
Ville-sur-Ancre Cemetery. Picture taken on December 6, 2018 by Ybroc (CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons). https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ville-sur-Ancre,_cimeti%C3%A8re_militaire_britannique_1.jpg