Friday, 5 June 2015

People of Biddisham - Edwin John Banwell

Edwin John Banwell just before he enlisted 

Edwin Banwell was born in Compton Bishop on 16 November 1897. 
His father Albert was a labourer on the Compton Estate and he lived in an estate cottage with his wife Elizabeth.
Edwin had an older brother Alfred and sister Lilian and a younger brother Alfred who was born in 1899. By 1911 Edwin (aged just 13) was living and working at Westbrook Farm, Brent Knoll which was owned by William Vowles. His older brother Albert worked at Tom Vowles’ Laurel Farm at Winscombe. 
By the time of the 1911 Census their parents had moved to Biddisham and a further four younger brothers and sisters had expanded the family.

On 25 January 1915 Edwin attested as Rifleman 6176 for the Rifle Brigade at Bath and he went to France on 28 July 1915.  
Brother Alfred enlisted in the Royal Artillery and went to France in December 1915. 
In July 1916 Edwin was severely wounded and was discharged from the army a month later. He was hospitalised in England for many months and after
recuperating at home in April 1918 he re-enlisted as Gunner 213146 in the Royal Artillery.
Having already served and been so badly wounded, there would have been no expectation for him to serve again and it is a testament to his courage that he wanted to return to the war.

Edwin was discharged in June 1919. In 1926 he married Rose Body and a year later their daughter Grace was born followed in 1931 by her brother David. Edwin died in 1969 and Rose in 1981.

In the Rifle Brigade before going to France

Recovering from his wounds in August 1916

Back in the uniform of the Royal Artillery when he re-enlisted in April 1918

An X-ray taken in 1919 showing a piece of shrapnel still embedded in his chest.

 Edwin’s discharge certificate from the Rifle Brigade

Card from Edwin’s mother returned to her from France in July 1917 as he had been 
sent to hospital in England

This information was provided by Ian McLaren and Betty Baker who was Edwin Banwell's niece and lived near Axe Vale coaches. Sadly Betty passed away about 18 months ago and a source of local knowledge and amusing anecdotes were lost.

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