Private 19880 Vivian Downes

Died Home on Monday, 24th February 1919, age 23.
Buried in Grave A. 10. at Tipton Cemetery, Staffordshire, United Kingdom.

11th Bn., Royal Fusiliers. 54th Brigade of 18th Division.

Son of the late Thomas Downes and Julia Downes. Born at Tipton.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Unknown, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/395341/

Genealogical Data

1871 Census
3 Owen Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Thomas Downes (63, Tailor - Master with 10 men, born Ludlow), his wife Elizabeth (51, born Dudley), and their 3 children: Edward (20, Clerk, born Dudley), Jane (18, born Dudley), and Elizabeth (15, born Dudley).

1881 Census
3 Owen Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Mary E. Downes (62, Widow, born Dudley), and her 4 children: Thomas (age 33, Vivian's father, Tailor - Master employing 4 men, born Tipton), George (30, Tailor - Master employing 4 men, born Tipton), Sara J. Davis (28, born Tipton) plus her 9-month old son Thomas, and Mary E. (25, born Tipton).

1891 Census
7 & 8 Owen Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Mary Elizabeth Downes (71, Widow, Living on own means, born Dudley), and her 3 children: Thomas (43, Single, Scenic Artist, born Tipton), George Edward (40, Single, Living on own means, born Tipton), and Mary E. Dawson (35, Living on own means, born Tipton) plus Mary's 2 children. Also 2 servants.

Marriage of Thomas Downes and Julia Baugh registered June quarter 1891 in Madeley.
Birth of Vivian Downes registered December quarter 1893 in Dudley.
Death of Julia Downes, age 36, registered December quarter 1893 in Dudley.
Death of Thomas Downes, age 49, registered December quarter 1896 in Dudley.

1901 Census
68 Dudley Road, Tipton, Staffs.
George Edward Downes (50, Single, Living on own means, born Tipton), his orphaned nephew Vivian Downes (7, born Tipton), his nephew Thomas Clifton Davies (20, Butcher, born Tipton), and his widowed sister Mary Elizabeth Dawson (44, Living on own means, born Tipton) plus Mary's daughter: Gladys M. Dawson (14, born Tipton).

1911 Census
46 Dudley Road, Tipton, Staffs.
George Edward Downes (60, Single, Gentleman, born Tipton), Mary Elizabeth Dawson (55, Widowed sister, Private means, born Tipton), Thomas Clifton Davies (20, Nephew, Butcher, born Tipton), Gladys Mary Gwendolyn Dawson (24, Niece, Private means , born Tipton), Vivian Downes (17, Nephew, Private Means, born Tipton). Also 2 servants.

Personal Data

Vivian came from a relatively prosperous background, the family's 'independent means' seemingly from his grandfather's tailoring business in Owen Street. His father Thomas was described in 1891 as a 'Scenic Artist', possibly a sculptor, but no trace can be found of any of his works. Thomas married Julia in 1891, Vivian was born in 1893 with his mother dying in or shortly his birth, and his father dying just 2 years later.

Vivian was not thought to have a "physique robust enough for a soldier", but by 1916 he was serving at the front with the 8th Royal Fusiliers. As part of 12th (Eastern) Division, they played a significant part in the Battle of the Somme, including action at Ovillers, Pozieres, and Le Transloy.

We do not know if Vivian's early death in February 1919 was as a result of wounds or illness, but he is commemorated on the CWGC 'Debt of Honour'. He is buried in Tipton Cemetery where he has a private grave.

After Vivian's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £6/19/4d (6 pound, 19 shillings and 4 pence); this was paid to Sarah J. Davis (his aunt) and Gladys M. Rubery (his cousin) in March 1920. His War Gratuity was £18/0/0d (18 pounds exactly), this was paid to the same 2 people, in March 1920. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Vivian had enlisted in approximately May 1915.

Action resulting in his death

Vivian Downes died in Tipton on 24th February 1919, cause unknown.

The CWGC record shows Vivian Downes serving with the 11th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. According to his Medal Roll entry, Vivian spent all of his service time with the Royal Fusilers, but from 8th March 1916 to 4th February 1918 with the 8th Battalion (12th Division), from 5th February 1918 to 27th March 1918 with the 7th Battalion (63rd Royal Naval Division), and just 11th November 1918 to 11th November 1918 with the 11th Battalion.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 12th August 1916
Mr Vivian Downes, who was for some time a pupil in the office of the Tipton Surveyor, joined the Army in 1915. No-one considered his physique robust enough for a soldier, while all felt that his courage in joining the Army was very commendable. When he was examined by the military doctor in camp, he was rejected as far as foreign service was concerned, and he was sent to another centre. And now I learn that he has for several months been at the front. All who knew him will fervently wish him a safe return to Tipton.