Samuel Atcherley was a first cousin of Henry Atcherley (see Remembrance: Day Two). Like Henry, he joined the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry. Unlike Henry however, Samuel had joined the KSLI long before the Great War – and his medal index card shows that he was discharged from the Army some time before the end of that conflict. Although some of Henry Atcherley’s service records have survived, the same cannot be said for those of Samuel. This left the question as to the nature of his discharge unanswered. Until this week that is, when the release of a new record set by Ancestry resolved the mystery.
Samuel was born in 1890 in the parish of Ercall Magna, the fifth child of Henry Atcherley and his wife Hannah (Teece). Almost certainly he was born in the village of High Ercall, where he and his family were recorded on the 1891 census (with their surname written as Atcherly) living at Park Road. The birth places of Samuel’s younger brothers and sisters (plus the 1901 census) show that his family moved frequently, as father Henry moved from one agricultural labourer’s job to another. Samuel’s childhood was therefore spent in several different parishes in northern Shropshire and south-western Staffordshire: Ercall Magna (Shropshire), Knutton (Staffordshire), Childs Ercall (Shropshire), Stoke upon Tern (Shropshire) and Shebdon (Staffordshire). It was almost certainly while his family was living in the parish of Shebdon that Samuel enlisted with the KSLI, on 19 July 1909.
The movements of Samuel’s family during his childhood were as nothing compared with those of his new military ‘family.’ Having been recorded at High Ercall on the 1891 census, and at Stoke Park in the parish of Stoke upon Tern in 1901, “Samuel Atcherly,” aged 21, single, born at High Ercall, Shropshire, a Private, was in 1911 recorded with the 2nd Battalion of the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry at Trimulgherry in India.
It was as part of the KSLI that Samuel entered France on 21 December 1914, during the early stages of the First World War. Less than a year later however, Samuel was back home, and based at Musketry Camp at Penally in Pembrokeshire with his Regiment’s 3rd Battalion. He was by this time a Lance Corporal. This information comes not from any Army records, but from the record of Samuel’s marriage, at Pembroke Register Office on 3 October 1915, to Mary Ann Adams.
Mary Ann was a local girl, born 8 April 1886 at Minwear in Pembrokeshire. The 1911 census shows her living at The Grove in Landshipping, Martletwy, Pembrokeshire with her parents, James Adams, a farm labourer, and his wife Margaret, along with her brother Thomas, her sister Louise, her cousin Amy Cole – and her 3-month-old son, Daniel Gwyrith Adams. Following the marriage of his mother to Samuel Atcherley, Daniel would grow up as part of the Atcherley family and would later fight – and die – in the Second World War as a Bombadier in the Royal Artillery. He was killed in action on 2 June 1940 at Dunkirk, and later buried in the churchyard of St Caradog, Lawrenny, in his native Pembrokeshire. The database of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission shows him as the son (rather than the grandson) of James and M. Adams, of Lawrenny, and as the husband of Edith May Adams of Cresselly.
Samuel too, it turns out, was a casualty of war, though his wounds were not fatal. They were however sufficiently severe for him to be discharged from the Army on 19 June 1916. To ensure that he would not be branded as a coward for being at home while his countrymen were fighting, Lance Corporal Samuel Atcherley of the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry, Regimental Number 9258, was issued with a Silver War Badge, number 188614, inscribed with the words “For King and Empire” and “Services Rendered.” The creation and issue of this badge to military personnel discharged through illness or injury was authorised by King George V in September 1916, and indexed scans of the Roll of Individuals entitled to wear it are among the new records released by Ancestry this week.
Although the Great War caused Samuel to suffer significant injury, it also had another major impact on his life – and on the shape of the Atcherley family tree. It was thanks to his wartime posting to the 3rd Battalion of the KSLI at Penally Musketry Camp that Samuel met and married Mary Ann Adams, with whom he would have five children. Their descendants today live in various parts of Britain, including Pembrokeshire, that corner of Wales which became an Atcherley stronghold not only in wartime, but also during the peace that men like Samuel Atcherley fought to win.