Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Charles Henry Hughes Spivey



Charles Henry Hughes Spivey was my mother's father's father. He died before my mother was born, and so I never met him at all.

He was the first non-commissioned officer in the Scots Guards. The family tale was that his family didn't approve of his choice of career or choice of bride, but I don't know how true that was. He's shown below with my great grandmother, Lottie Dickins or Dickens.

I don't remember my grandparents talking much about him other than the fact that he was the first non-commissioned officer in the Scots Guards. I remember my grandmother telling me that she and my grandfather and my grandfather's brother got together an impromptu band and she was jazzing up the death march. She could jazz up any tune on the piano.

Apparently my great-grandfather came in, said: "I've heard to many good men go out to that tune to think that funny," and turned and swept out of the room again. They were duly sobered by that.

My mother Diana Spivey, tells me that she remembers her father telling her that C.H.H. (as I think of him) would never let Lottie use serving dishes for food, because they waited such a long time for all their food in the army that it was invariably cold by the time they got it. Also, if anyone complained about the food, he would growl that they ate rats during the seige of Ladysmith and were glad to have them!


He fought in the Boer war, and was in Ladysmith during the seige (shown above), reputedly eating rats and his boots before the end of it. Oh the other hand, the British invented the concentration camp in the midst of that war, so maybe they deserved to be starved, I don't know.

He was awarded a civilian MBE for his work in mobilising the Scots Guards during the First World War. Apparently all the records had been sent to storage and it was going to take months to retrieve them. He remembered the names and addresses of dozens of men. Not sure how happy they will have been to have been located to go fight for their country, but the Prime Minister was grateful. He said that he didn't want any fuss or anyone to go to Buckingham Palace with him, but Laurie, his step-daughter (Caterina Mondioli) managed to be in the right place at the right time to be snapped.

I hold a number of original documents that come from him. I have his Certificate of Education (First class) from the Army Schools, dated 25 October 1904, in which he is named a Colour Sergeant (O/R?S?) C.H. Spivey.

I have a little red card booklet for the Third Guards Club, in which he appear in the list of members, elected 1928.

I have a ticket for the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary, 22 June 1911.

I have the newspaper cutting about his brother's death in 1914, which is all but destroyed.

I have numerous picture of both him and my great grandmother, at various times.

7 comments:

Nelson said...

Good morning

I happen to find your website while I was doing research on Charles Henry Hughes Spivey.

I have an historical interest in the Scots Guards regiment and all the men who served with the regiment at various period of time. The small bio you have on your website on him is really nice.

Mr Spivey would be entitled to these military medals Queen South Africa medal, maybe the King South Africa medal, Military British Empire medal and the Army Long Service and Good Conduct medal. Also depending if he served in France during WW1, he would be entitled to at least the Brtish War and Victory medal and depending when he entered France, if he did, he couls also be entitled to the 1914-15 Star.

According to the medal roll he received his Long Service medal in 1912, meaning that he enlisted around 1894. They needed 18 years of good service to received this medal.

He received his MBE medal January of 1918 and retired February 1920

I have a few questions for you if it is not too much too ask
On the picture on your blog from his time in South Africa, do you know which one of the three men he is?
Do you know if Mr Spivey served in France during the WW1?
You mentioned on your website that his brother died in 1914, do you know if he was killed at war?

Fee said...

I'm *so* sorry that I have only just now seen this comment on my blog. I have a great deal of information about my great grandfather, and I'm happy to supply any information I can. I do not know which of the three is my grandfather for sure, as they had all lost so much weight. I *think* he is the one seated in the front. I do have a picture of him in uniform, and at the palace collecting his MBE. According to my grandfather Charles Henry Hughes Spivey joined the Scots Guards on 10 September 1893 and served in the ranks 23 years and 136 days. He was then promoted to a combatant commission in the Scots Guards on 24 January, 1917. I do not know if he served in France. I do know that he served in South Africa with the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards from 15 March 1900 to 27 Oct 1902 in the 8th Division. The feat that the family were most proud about was the raising from the ranks to become an officer, and being the first soldier to do that in the Scots Guards.

His brother William Francis Spivey was headmaster of Monoux School and seems to have died from trying to run the school with too little money and too few staff. He had a brother Benjamin Spivey, who was a Captain in the Army, and a younger brother John H Spivey who became a pilot, although I have not established whether this was of the flying or sailing variety.

It is interesting that CHH's sister Maria was also awarded a MBE for her work in Wallsend with the wives and children of soldiers and sailors. She had unusually attended a college of further education to gain a teaching qualification before marrying William Richardson and moving to Wallsend. Another sister was a nurse, and worked for the Rothschild family in Hertfordshire. Again, I have a lot more detail if required.

Fee said...

Sorry Nelson, also forgot to mention that the family donated his medals to the Chapel at Wellington Barracks. The chapel took a direct hit during the Second World War, and they were destroyed, although the family were told that replicas would be put in place... I don't know if that happened, however.

I have just realised that my family history website is a bit eclectic to say the least... I will endeavour to bring a bit more order to the contents!

Medic said...

I am very surprise to read that his medals have been destroyed during WW2. Go on the website the medals dealer Philip Burman and look at item 617 on his grand List, they are Charles Henry hughes Spivey.

Thank you for the extra information, I will add to the information I already have on him

Fee said...

I will go and look immediately, but that's extraordinary: I have the letter from the Scots Guards inviting his widow to go and see the medals in situ. The only way that this can have happened would be for someone to have retrieved them during the way, as far as I am aware.

Nelson said...

Indeed it is very extraordinary it's either the group was found under the ruins without damage and that person prefered to keep it for him or either the group was stored somewhere before the war and again someone chose to keep those for himself.

If you could keep me inform on what happen next with those medals

I've never seen a story like that, a group that disapeared in the ruins of the war and surface back after 70 more years. This will add to the legend of your ancester

Fee said...

I should immediately correct what I posted yesterday: the letter I have actually only refers to the fact that Charles Henry Hughes Spivey's name had been added to the memorial in the Chapel, there is no reference to the medals. However, I was definitely told that the medals had been donated to the Guards Chapel, and that the Chapel took a direct hit during the war... and I found corroborating evidence to confirm that the Chapel was bombed during the war, which I noted. So now I am wondering if I was given incorrect information by my grandfather, or someone rescued the medals from the rubble... I can't believe the Guards Chapel would have sold medals, but I suppose that is a remote possibility. I am going to buy the medals, and then see if I can discover where they have been in the interim. Thank you soo much for having drawn my attention to them.