1426 GNR. John ODGERS. R.F.A.
681831 GNR. Joseph ODGERS. R.F.A.
John (Jack) and Joseph Odgers were brothers. Their father was Alfred Odgers (b. 1861 in Tywardreath, Par, Cornwall). Alfred lived in Cornwall until he joined the Navy in 1878. He originally signed up for 10 years but was invalided out in August 1883. By this time he had moved to the Wirral and in 1882 he married Charlotte Eccles (b. 1864 in Heswall). Alfred and Charlotte had 13 children, though 4 died in infancy. The survivors were: Elizabeth Ann (b. 1882), George (b. 1883), Jessie (b. 1885), Sarah (b. 1888), John (Jack) (b. 1892), Joseph (b. 1896), then Frank (b. 1899), Nellie (b. 1902) and Ruth (b. 1905). The family had moved across the Mersey in about 1897, just after Joe was born, and in 1911 they lived at 282 Great Howard Street, Liverpool. Alfred, Jack and Joe all worked for the Leyland Line, Alfred as a waterman and the two sons as clerks. The Leyland Line was a shipping company formed in the 1880s to carry exclusively first-class passengers between Liverpool and Boston.
Both Jack and Joe joined the Royal Field Artillery.
1426 GNR. John ODGERS. R.F.A.
Jack, the older of the brothers, joined the West Lancashire Brigade in May 1915 and was assigned service number 1426 and posted to 2nd/4th West Lancs Howitzer Brigade (subsequently this became D/286 Brigade). A few months later, Jack married Carrie Askew Anderson (b. 1894 in Bootle) and the following year they had a son John Alfred (b. 2 Jan 1916). Jack died while still in training, at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, on 7 April 1916, aged 23. He died from internal haemorrhage and haemoptysis (coughing up blood) – these symptoms are often indicative of tuberculosis. Jack’s attestation papers have survived and they contain lengthy correspondence surrounding a claim for £7 6s 6d made by Jack’s father for expenses in paying for a coffin and transport of the body from Canterbury to Liverpool. Some of the paperwork seems to have got lost but in the end (more than two years after Jack’s death) the Army determined that all due expenses had been met and no further claim was allowed.
Carrie remarried after the War. In 1924 she married William M Cox (b. 1890) and they had a son, William Askew Cox (b. 1926). Carrie died in 1948.
Service Number: 1426
Date of Death: 07/04/1916
Service/Regiment: Royal Field Artillery, 4th West Lancs. Howitzer Bde.
Cemetery/memorial reference: D. (East) 63.
Cemetery: LIVERPOOL (WALTON PARK) CEMETERY
Additional Information: Husband of Mrs. Carrie Askew Odgers, of 36 Barnton Street, Litherland, Liverpool.
681831 GNR. Joseph ODGERS. R.F.A.
Although Joe was the younger of the two brothers, he appears to have joined the Artillery a little earlier and was probably in the Territorials before the War. He was assigned service number 1391 and posted to “D” Battery of 276 Brigade. His service number was later changed to 681831. He landed with 55th Division in France on 30 September 1915.
55th Division relieved 42nd (East Lancashire) Division in the front line at Givenchy and Festubert on 15 February 1918. Here, it faced numerous strong enemy raids in March. Early April was at first much quieter but this was the quiet before the storm.
From the War Diary
9 April 1918 4.15am Enemy opened heavy H.E. and Gas bombardment on all Battery areas, Headquarters, and Wagon Lines. Batteries opened on “Counter preparation” and later on S.O.S. Hostile infantry reported attacking, and pressing back our Infantry on the Left. 164th Infantry Brigade still holding GIVENCHY. Continuous hostile shelling throughout the day. Enemy infantry at one time reached forward gun of A/276 Battery in GUNNER SIDING, but counter-attacked and driven off.
6.42pm A/276 Bty report all guns destroyed and personnel manning trench in front of position. Ordered to move personnel to Wagon lines with all material that can be salved. D/276 Battery moved forward gun back to main position. Throughout the day information received of enemy concentration. Batteries opened fire on all occasions, and with the exception of local encounters no further attack on a large scale developed on Group Front.
8.00pm Information received that 800 prisoners captured to date.
10 April 1918 7.30am FESTUBERT heavily shelled and enemy attacking in neighbourhood of LOISNE. (The enemy attack continued throughout the day but by) 8.30pm Infantry report enemy attack driven off. All Batteries ceased fire on S.O.S. lines but continued harassing fire at slow rate.
11-14 April The enemy attacked, were repulsed, re-grouped and attacked again, but the ferocity of the attacks slowly diminished. They make another effort on 18 April but again are repulsed. On 26 April 164th Infantry Brigade feel confident enough to mount a counter-attack which is initially successful but they are later forced back to their original line.
The enemy attack continued until 18 April, when it slackened off then ceased. On 20 April, the Division re-captured a number of trenches near Givenchy and skirmishes continued until the end of the month but neither side made any gains.
During May, the Brigade remained near Givenchy but there were no more attacks and on 27 May they were relieved from the line and withdrew to bivouac at Bois des Dames. They moved back into the line between 9-12 June and between 13-20 June they supported a number of infantry raids. Throughout July, August and September they engaged in harassing fire, mainly by night. Some relatively minor infantry raids were mounted but the action was mainly to disrupt the enemy and prevent any counterattack. On 2 October, the Brigade received information that the Germans had begun to withdraw and the Brigade then began its advance. They reached Hantay on 4 October. Joe was killed in action on 13 October 1918, aged 22.
Service No: 681831
Date of Death: 13/10/1918
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, “D” Bty, 276th Bde. Cemetery/memorial reference: IV. E. 16.
Cemetery/Memorial: ST. AUBERT BRITISH CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of Mr. A. Odgers, of 3 Bedford Road, Bootle, Liverpool.
After the War, Alfred, Charlotte and several of their children emigrated to Canada. Oldest son, George, had emigrated in 1909 and his brother Frank in 1916. The story is taken up by a family member:
Alfred Odgers, son of Thomas Odgers and Elizabeth Ann Greet, was born in Little Par, Cornwall, England on March 8, 1861. Charlotte Eccles, daughter of Joseph Eccles and Sarah Brooksbank, was born on April 18, 1864 in Heswall, Cheshire.. Information gleaned from chatting with various family members indicates that Alfred was a "man of the sea", a jolly personable gentleman who loved to sing and play cards, cribbage in particular. Charlotte was a quiet, dignified, determined lady to whom fell much responsibility in raising their family. In the later years, they owned and operated an inn... The Brunswick Hotel.. in Liverpool. Charlotte, along with daughters Jessie, Nell and Ruth, left England in 1919 to join George and his family, and Frank who had emigrated to Canada earlier and settled on a homestead east of Cochin in the Lost Horse Creek School District. After having disposed of the property in Liverpool in the aftermath of WW1, Alfred joined the family in 1921. He and Frank built a new house on Frank's land, the house that served as the family home for many years. Alfred and Charlotte purchased the NW quarter 30-48-15 in 1923. He brushed this land with an axe after which Frank, with his trusty high-spirited work horses, broke the land. They continued to live in the Lost Horse district until Alfred's passing in June, 1930. At that time, Charlotte went to live with her daughter Jessie. She passed away on November 17, 1932. Both Alfred and Charlotte are buried in the Hyde Park Cemetery which is located some forty miles northeast of North Battleford in Sandwith area.
[I think the reference to the Brunswick Hotel is incorrect. In the 1901 Census, Alfred’s occupation was recorded as licensed victualler. He was living at the junction of Thirlmere Road and Oakfield Road in Everton. The pub at that location is called The Oakfield.]