Cecil Tom Silverwood

Sapper 268069, Royal Engineers

Royal Engineers cap badge from WW1
Royal Engineers cap badge from WW1

Cecil Tom Silverwood is one of the men on the Bottesford ‘church list’ of WW1 Servicemen.

Family Background

Cecil Tom Silverwood was born in the first quarter of 1899 in Redmile, the youngest of three Silverwood brothers, Arthur Edward, Robert Charles and Cecil Tom, each of whom served with the British army during WW1.

As recorded in the 1911 census, he lived at home in Redmile with his father Tom Walter Silverwood (1862-1950, tailor maker and post master) and mother Jessie Louisa Marshall Silverwood (1863-1937). He was ten years old, much the youngest of the five ‘children’ living at home at this time. The others were Arthur Edward (24) a tailor maker like his father, Florence Anne (23) a postal assistant, Ethel Eliza (21) and Robert Charles (18) who was at work as a poultry keeper. There was also a cousin, five years old Thomas Rhead Carlton.

Military Record

To date, no service record has been found. It should be borne in mind that Cecil would not have turned 18 until early in 1918. It is quite possible that he was recruited into the army soon after his 18th birthday, and was accordingly included in the ‘church list’ as a WW1 Serviceman from Bottesford. However, his service “for the duration of the war” would have been relatively short. Once he had undergone initial training, he could have been posted to his fighting unit for only a matter of a few months at most.

A British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index card exists for Cecil T Silverwood, which states that he was a Sapper in the Royal Engineers (no. 268069). It also states he was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.

Life After the war

After the war, he worked for the post office, like his Father. In 1931 he was appointed to the Ilkeston Post Office Workers Committee as “agent for “post” magazine” (Derby Daily Telegraph, Monday 12th Jan 1931). In 1939, Cecil T. Silverwood (date of birth given here as the 10th December, 1898) was living at 18, Murray Road, Rugby, Warwickshire, and was working as a ‘sorting clerk and telegraphist, General Post Office’. The other occupants of the house were a couple, Edward and Frances Cooper, who may have been the householders. Cecil’s wife Irene Elsie was not there, suggesting that this may have been a temporary lodging while Cecil was perhaps working away from home. Later on, in the obituary of his father, Tom Walter Silverwood (Grantham Journal, 24th February, 1950), it was stated that Mr Cec.  Silverwood had just been promoted to be the postmaster in Renfrew.

In 1921, Arthur and Jessie Silverwood together with their three sons, including Cecil Tom, were on the Electoral Roll for Bottesford, their address on the High Street. Two years later, in 1923, Cecil married Irene Elsie Waite (b.1902 at Spilsby, Lincs). The marriage was reported as taking place at the Wesleyan Church, Finkin Street, Grantham, on the 28th May, 1923 (Grantham Journal, 2nd June 1923). They went on to have 3 children.

Thereafter, two aspects of the records of Cecil T Silverwood’s life are confusing and open to different interpretations. Firstly, there is ample information that he married a second time, in Northumberland, in 1958 not long before he died, but the name of this second wife is difficult to resolve. She was Marjorie Isabelle Georgina Willis (1917-1962), according to several public family trees published by Ancestry.co.uk. However, the record from the General Register of Marriages (Find My Past) is that Cecil T Silverwood married Marjorie I Hennessy in Northumberland (South) in 1958. It is probable hard to doubt that both sources refer to the same marriage, yet they provide different names for his second wife. The explanation is that her maiden name was Willis, and that she must have been married to a Mr Hennessy before she married Cecil Silverwood. There is a General Register record of the birth of Marjorie I. C. Willis in 1917 at Basingstoke – the ‘C’ may be a transcription error that should be ‘G’. There is the General Register record of the marriage of Marjorie I.G. Hennessy to Cecil Silverwood in 1958, and finally a record, from Leicestershire Burials, of the burial of Marjorie I.G. Silverwood on the 15th August 1962, at Bottesford, just over a year after the death of her husband Cecil. The sequence of records would be complete if that confirming Marjorie Willis’ first marriage to Mr. Hennessy could be found, but so far the search for this has not been successful.

A second issue has arisen from attempts to find out when Cecil Silverwood’s first wife, Irene Elsie, died. Searches based on her first name being Irene, or Rene, have yielded no results, but there is one General Register record of an Elsie Silverwood, born 1902, who died in Rochdale in 1984. If this was Cecil’s first wife, then it indicates that she was alive when he married Marjorie Hennessy, and indeed outlived both Cecil and Marjorie by several years. The only explanations are that she and Cecil may have divorced, or that this record is not related to Elsie, wife of Cecil Silverwood of Bottesford. The question is unresolved.

What is clear is that Cecil T. Silverwood died in 1960, aged 61, and was buried on the 9th March, at Bottesford.

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