Bob Whiting of Brighton & Hove Albion FC
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The Story of Bob Whiting - Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club's Goalkeeper
Whiting was born in the East London district of Canning Town,
Essex, on 6th January 1883 under the name of "Robert Greenhalf".
[The birth of Robert Greenhough (Greenhalf) was registered
in the East London district of West Ham during the 1st Quarter of
1883]. Bob Whiting's parents were Robert Greenhalf (born 1852,
Whitechapel, London) and Margaret Gorman (born 1857, Southwark,
Surrey). When the 1881 census was taken, Robert's mother, Margaret Gorman,
was living with her two sisters - Ellen (aged 25) and Eliza
(aged 18) - and their teenage brother Edward Gorman in Fern Street,
Bow, East London. Twenty-three year old Margaret Gorman and her two
sisters were all working as "match makers" (probably as employees
of the Bryant & May match factory in Bow), but sixteen year old
Edward Gorman was described as an "unemployed labourer". No
parents are recorded at Margaret's home; twenty-five year old Ellen
Gorman, Margaret's elder sister, being recorded as the "Head of Household". Robert Whiting
(born c1852, St George's, London),
who was later to become the father to Bob Greenhalf
at this time, living in Bow, East London. On the 1881 census
return, Robert Whiting (legally known as Robert Greenhalf) is described as an unmarried man of 29,
working as a "boiler-maker".
On 12th March 1882, Margaret Gorman married Robert Greenhalf (also known as Robert Whiting) in the East London district of Mile End. The newly married couple moved to Canning Town, a dockland area in the eastern suburbs of London. Robert Greenalf, the couple's first child, was born in 1883. Edward Greenhalf, Bob's brother, arrived the following year. [The birth of Edward Greenhalf was registered in the district of West Ham during the 3rd Quarter of 1884]. Margaret gave birth to a number of children over the next dozen years - Ellen Greenhalf (born c1886, Canning Town), Martha Greenhalf (born 1887, Canning Town), Mary Ann "Polly" Greenhalf (born 1889, Canning Town), Frederick Greenhalf (born 1891, Canning Town), James Greenhalf (born 1894) and Joseph Greenhalf (born 1897). The births of her children were registered under the surname of "Greenhalf", yet all eight children adopted the surname of Whiting.
When the 1891 census was taken on 5th April 1891, Bob's mother gave her name as Margaret Whiting and her six children are also listed under her husband's adopted surname of "Whiting" - Robert Whiting (aged 8), Edward Whiting (aged 6), Ellen Whiting (aged 5), Martha Whiting (aged 3), Polly Whiting (aged 1) and Frederick Whiting, a baby who was only a few months old.
Between 1891 and 1897, Margaret Greenhalf gave birth to two more children - James Greenhalf (born 1894, Canning Town) and Joseph Greenhalf (born 1896, Canning Town). The two new additions to the family, like their older siblings, adopted the surname of "Whiting".
Margaret Greenhalf (also known as Margaret Whiting) died in 1900 at the age of 43, leaving her husband Robert Whiting (formerly known as Robert Greenhalf) to bring up their eight children. When the census was taken on 31st March 1901, forty-nine year old Robert Whiting (Greenhalf), who was then working as a "Boiler Maker" in the local iron works, was caring for eight children. Eighteen year old Bob Whiting (Greenhalf) and his younger brother Edward Whiting (Greenhalf) were both employed as dock labourers. Presumably, fifteen year old Ellen Whiting, the eldest of three daughters, was helping to bring up the three junior Whiting boys, the youngest of whom was only 4 years of age.
[ABOVE] The main works building of the Thames Iron Works & Ship Building Company, pictured in 1895. The Thames Iron Works & Ship Building Company had been formed in 1857 and was situated off the River Thames alongside Bow Creek. [The site of the Thames Iron Works can be seen in the map above between Bow Creek and the railway line]. The Thames Iron Works drew many of its workers from nearby Canning Town, where Bob Whiting lived with his family.
[ABOVE] Workers at the Thames Iron Works, photographed in 1901. Bob Whiting began his working life as a dock labourer, but around 1902, he was taken on as ship-building worker by the Thames Iron Works & Ship Building Company.
[ABOVE] The Thames Iron Works Football Team, photographed in 1896. Founded in 1895 by Arnold Hills, the owner of the Thames Iron Works and Shipbuilding Company, and Dave Taylor, a foreman in the shipbuilding department of the Company, Thames Iron Works Football Club evolved into West Ham United in 1900. Bob Whiting joined West Ham United as a goalkeeper around 1902, but did not make the first team, playing in the Reserves until he moved on to Tunbridge Wells Rangers football club around 1904.
Robert Whiting Early Football Career
Around 1902, Bob Whiting found work with the Thames Iron Works & Ship Building Company. Bob was already a keen footballer and soon after joining the Thames Iron Works Company he became a member of the Iron Works' football team, recently re-named as West Ham United. Six foot tall and weighing around 12 stone, Bob Whiting was naturally suited to the role of goalkeeper. Although he showed promise as a goalkeeper, Bob Whiting only made the Reserve Team of West Ham United. After a couple of years in the Reserves of West Ham United, Bob Whiting moved to Kent to join the First Team of Tunbridge Wells Rangers.
Robert Whiting found lodgings in Tonbridge, Kent, and it was here that he met Sarah Quinnell (born 1883, Tonbridge, Kent), the daughter of William Quinnell, a brick maker's labourer who lived in St John's Road, Tonbridge. It appears that Sarah Quinnell (known as 'Nellie' to her family and friends) was the youngest of nine children born to Lucy and William Quinnell. Sarah's parents Lucy Hyland (born 1827, Hastings, Sussex) and William Quinnell (born c1825, Tunbridge Wells, Kent) had married in the bride's home town of Hastings in 1863. William and Lucy Quinnell settled in Tonbridge, Kent, setting up home at No. 75 St John's Road, Tonbridge. It was here during the 3rd Quarter of 1883, that Sarah "Nellie" Quinnell was born. When Bob Whiting met Nellie Quinnell, she was earning her living as a laundry worker.
On 13th January 1906, Bob Whiting played in goal for Tunbridge Wells Rangers in a F. A. Cup Tie against Norwich City. Scouts for Chelsea Football Club were impressed by Bob Whiting's performance and in April 1906 he was signed up as a reserve goalkeeper for Chelsea F. C. When Chelsea's regular goalkeeper Michael "Micky" Byrne was injured in the opening match of the 1906-1907 season, Bob Whiting was given the opportunity to establish himself as the club's first choice goalie. Between 1906 and 1908, Bob Whiting made 54 appearances in goal for Chelsea Football Club. In the Summer of 1908, Bob Whiting joined Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club to become the club's First Team Goalkeeper, a position he held until he enlisted in the British Army during the First World War.
On 12th August 1907, Robert Whiting married twenty-four year old Sarah Nellie Quinnell at St John's Church in Tonbridge, Kent. On the marriage certificate, Bob Whiting's bride, Sarah Quinnell, gives her first name as "Nellie". William Quinnell, the bride's father gave his occupation as "Labourer". Bob's father, Robert Whiting, is described as a "Boiler Maker". Bob Whiting and his bride Nellie Quinnell informed the Registrar that they were both living at 89 St John's Road, Tonbridge, Kent. Robert "Bob" Whiting's profession is recorded on the marriage certificate as "Professional Footballer".
Robert Leonard Whiting, Bob and Sarah Whiting's first child, was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, during the 2nd Quarter of 1908. In the Summer of that year, Bob Whiting moved to Hove in Sussex, to take up his position as goalkeeper for Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club. It was while staying in Hove, that Bob's wife Sarah ('Nellie') gave birth to her second son, William James Whiting in 1909. [ The birth of William James Whiting was registered in the Sussex district of Steyning (which then included Hove) during the 4th Quarter of 1909 ]. Bob's third son, Joseph Frederick Whiting, was born in Tunbridge Wells on 26th February,1917.
[ABOVE] Bob Whiting, the goalkeeper of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club pictured in a photograph taken around 1912 by Ebenezer Pannell of Hove.
Robert Whiting's Career as Brighton & Hove Albion's First Team Goalkeeper
Twenty-Five year old Bob "Pom Pom" Whiting joined Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club in the Summer of 1908, making his debut as the team's goalkeeper against Plymouth Argyle F. C. on 12th September 1908.
|To see more examples of the photographic work of Ebenezer Pannell, Official Photographer of Brighton & Hove Albion F. C., click on the link below|
Where Robert Whiting lived in Hove
|[ABOVE] A detail from an Edwardian map of Hove showing the location of Bob Whiting's home in Westbourne Street, Hove. The 1911 census records Bob Whiting living at 138 Westbourne Street, Hove, close to the junction with Byron Street. At this time, Brighton & Hove's Football Ground was situated north of the railway line, within walking distance of Bob Whiting's home in Westbourne Street. Bob Whiting later moved from Westbourne Street to the nearby street of Coleridge Street.||[ABOVE] The house at 138 Westbourne Street, Hove, in 2012. When the 1911 census was taken a hundred years earlier, Bob Whiting was residing here.|
|The Whiting Family's Home Addresses in Hove, Sussex, and in Tunbridge Wells, Kent|
|By 1911, Bob Whiting had
found a place to live in Hove. When the census was taken on 2nd April
1911, Robert Whiting (described on the census return as a "Professional
Footballer", aged 27) was recorded at 138 Westbourne Street,
Hove. At this time, Bob's wife Sarah ('Nellie') and their two children were
boarding with Sarah's brother-in-law, Walter Hollamby in St John's
Road, Tunbridge Wells. The 1911 census lists Mrs Sarah Whiting,
aged 28, alongside her two sons, three year old Robert and one year
old (William) James Whiting as members of the household at 89 St
John's Road, Tunbridge Wells. Sarah and her husband Bob had been living
at this house with Mr and Mrs Quinnell, Sarah's parents, when they married
in 1907. Mrs Lucy Quinnell, Sarah's mother had died at this address
in St John's Road in 1908. William Quinnell, Sarah's widowed father,
was still living at 89 St John's Road at the time of the 1911 census.
On the census return, William Quinnell is described as an 86 year old
"Brick Worker" but it is unlikely that he was still working
at this advanced age. The
"Head of Household" is given as Walter Hollamby, a fifty year
old house painter. Walter Hollamby (born 1862,Tunbridge Wells) had
married Elizabeth 'Lizzie' Quinnell (born 1862,Tunbridge Wells),
Sarah's elder sister, in 1885. Walter and Elizabeth Hollamby
and their three children Walter (23), Nellie (17) and Frank
(12) shared their house with Elizabeth's elderly father and Mrs Sarah
Whiting and her two boys.
When Bob Whiting signed up for the Army in December 1914, he gave his home address as 9 Coleridge Street, Hove. When Mrs Sarah ('Nellie') Whiting, Bob's wife, gave birth to their youngest son, Joseph Frederick Whiting, on 26th February 1917, she was living at No. 10 Albion Square, St John's Road, Tunbridge Wells. The block of 16 houses known as Albion Square was situated behind Sarah Whiting's former home in St John's Road, Tunbridge Wells. ( In the 1881 census, Albion Square appears in the schedule between number 85 and 86 St John's Road; By 1911, the location of Albion Square was given as between 97 and 99 St John's Road, Tunbridge Wells). Originally used to house labourers employed in the local brick-making industry, Albion Square consisted of 16 houses. In 1917, Mrs Sarah ('Nellie') Whiting and her three sons were living at No. 10 Albion Square. Between April 1917 and 1930 the Whiting family were residing at No. 3 Albion Square and, from 1930 until 1933, at No. 12 Albion Square.
Bob Whiting, Brighton & Hove Albion and the Great War
[ABOVE] A picture postcard entitled "Albion Sharp Shooters" showing members of the Brighton & Hove Albion football team practising rifle drill in the early months of the First World War. The team's goalkeeper Bob Whiting (marked by a red cross) stands to attention with his rifle on his shoulder at the extreme right of the photograph (c1914).
[ABOVE] The Brighton & Hove Albion Football Team for the 1914-1915 Season pose for a team photograph taken by Ebenezer Pannell. Five of the players pictured in this team photograph were to lose their lives during the First World War. The five players who made the ultimate sacrifice (marked by a blue dot) were Charlie Matthews (inset, left), Bob Whiting (in the centre of the back row wearing the goalkeeper's jersey), Jasper "Ginger" Batey (standing in the middle if the third row next to Mr J. Robson, who wears a collar & tie), Ernie Townsend (the last player in the third row, standing next the assistant trainer, M. F. Coles) and Charlie Dexter (the player seated second left in the 2nd row of the team photograph).
Professional Footballers and the Great War
On 4th August 1914, outraged by the planned invasion of Belgium by German troops, the British Government declared war on Germany. Realising that the British regular army needed to be supplemented by volunteers, Field-Marshal Lord Kitchener, Britain's Secretary of State for War, called for a hundred thousand men to volunteer for his "New Army". There was a wave of patriotic enthusiasm and 500,000 men volunteered during the first month of Lord Kitchener's recruitment campaign.
Professional footballers were bound by fixed term contracts to their football clubs and technically they could not join the armed forces unless their employers released them from their playing contracts.
During the first month of the Great War, thousands of young men in Great Britain and the Dominions of the British Empire enlisted in the armed forces. A large number of social commentators, including clergymen, writers and journalists of the popular press, were critical of the professional footballers who had not yet volunteered for military service:
On 29th August 1914, The Daily Sketch published an article in which it urged professional footballers to join the British Army:
Four months later, on 14th December 1914, at Fulham Town Hall, William Joynson-Hicks, a Conservative MP, established the 17th Service Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, a type of "Pals" battalion which was designed to attract amateur and professional football players. Although around 500 men attended the Fulham Town Hall meeting, it was reported that only 35 professional footballers enlisted that day. By March 1915, 122 professional footballers had joined the 17th Middlesex Regiment, which was soon dubbed the "Football Battalion". The Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper Bob Whiting, alongside other members of the Brighton & Hove Albion Football Team, had enlisted in the "Football Battalion" of the 17th Middlesex Regiment in January 1915.
[LEFT] "YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU", the
famous First World War recruitment poster designed by Alfred Leete
featuring Field-Marshal Lord Kitchener, Britain's Secretary of State
for War (1914). Lord Kitchener believed the conflict would last
for 3 or 4 years and saw the need for a very large regular army. In
August 1914, Lord Kitchener had called for the "First Hundred Thousand" men
to volunteer for his "New Army". There was a wave of patriotic enthusiasm
and 500,000 men volunteered during the first month of his recruitment
[ABOVE] A large number of men queuing outside an Army Recruiting Office in Toronto, Canada, in August 1914. Men volunteered from all parts of the Commonwealth.
|Bob Whiting and the First World War|
in the 17th Service Battalion
(Footballers' Battalion) of the
Middlesex Regiment in January 1915. When Robert Whiting signed the Short Service Attestation
Document on 31st January 1915, he gave his home address as 9
Coleridge Street, Hove. In addition to Bob Whiting, more than a
dozen players from Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club were to join
the 17th Service Battalion
(Footballers' Battalion) of the Middlesex Regiment during the
course of the First World War, namely Jasper Matthews Batey,
George Beech, William Booth, Franklin Charles Buckley,
Charles Dexter, John Doran, Frederick Goodwin, William
Henry Jones, William Middleton, Bill Miller, Archibald
Needham, Ralph Routledge, Frank Spencer, Alfred John
Tyler, George Wilcock and John ('Jack')
Woodhouse. Other members of the Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club,
players such as Ernest Victor Townsend of 30 Coleridge Street,
Hove, joined other regiments.
The 17th Service Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, also known as the "Footballers' Battalion" or 1st Football Battalion, had been formed on 12th December 1914 by William Joynson Hicks (1865-1932), a solicitor and Conservative MP for Brentford. William Joynson Hicks had established the Battalion specifically to draw professional footballers and football fans into the British Army. In May 1915, the 2nd Footballers' Battalion, known as the 23rd Middlesex, was set up.
After basic training at White City, the 17th Service (Football) Battalion moved on to Cranleigh in April 1915. From Cranleigh, the 17th Service (1st Football) Battalion were transported to Clipstone Camp, a massive army camp near Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. After a month at Clipstone Camp, the 17th Service (1st Football) Battalion travelled south to Perham Down in Wiltshire. At Perham Down, on the edge of Salisbury Plain, the raw recruits of the 17th Service (1st Football) Battalion were trained for armed combat. By June 1915, Bob Whiting, who was now 32 years of age, had been promoted to the rank of Lance Sergeant. After months of battle training, the 17th Service (1st Football) Battalion embarked for France, landing at Boulogne on 18th November 1915.
The 17th Service (1st Football) Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment were sent to reinforce the troops based in the trenches near the French town of Loos, the location of a recent major British offensive. (The Battle of Loos, which took place between 25th September and 14th October 1915, had resulted in 50,000 British casualties). By early December 1915, Lance Sergeant Bob Whiting and his comrades in the 17th Middlesex Regiment were having their first taste of trench warfare.
Bob Whiting had enlisted in the 17th Service (Football) Battalion alongside four of his team mates from Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club - William Booth, Charlie Dexter, Alfie Tyler and John ('Jack') Woodhouse. On 7th December 1915, Lance Sergeant Bob Whiting wrote a letter to Albert Underwood, the Secretary of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, which indicates the importance of football to Whiting and his fellow professionals even when on active service on the Western Front:
Jack Woodhouse, a former Brighton & Hove Albion footballer who was serving alongside Bob Whiting in the 17th Service (Football) Battalion wrote more specifically about their experiences in the trenches:
Bob Whiting and the 1st Football Battalion returned to the Western Front on 15th January 1916. During their first few weeks on the front line, four members of the 1st Football Battalion were killed.
In the spring of 1916, the 1st Football Battalion moved south to Vimy Ridge, where it experienced heavy fighting near Souchez and sustained a number of casualties.
It was while serving in the filthy conditions of the front line that Lance Sergeant Bob Whiting contracted scabies. Towards the end of May 1916, Lance Sergeant Whiting was evacuated to England and sent to The 2nd Eastern General Hospital in Dyke Road, Brighton, for treatment.
During his sick leave in Brighton, Bob Whiting was able to meet up with his wife, Nellie. Already the mother of two young boys ( Robert Leonard, aged 8, and William James, aged 6), 'Nellie' Whiting fell pregnant during her husband's stay in Brighton. As his medical treatment neared completion, Bob Whiting realised that he would soon be declared fit for active service and returned to his regiment in France. In June 1916, instead of reporting for duty, the 'father-to-be' went absent without leave. After 133 days (nearly 4 months and 2 weeks), Bob Whiting was arrested in October 1916 and charged with "Desertion". The arrest of Bob Whiting was reported in The Brighton Herald on 21st October 1916:
At his Court Martial in December 1916, Lance Sergeant Bob Whiting was demoted to the rank of Private and sentenced to 9 months imprisonment with "hard labour".
During the time that Bob Whiting was away from his Battalion, the 17th Middlesex Regiment had seen action on the Somme, fighting at Delville Wood and Guillemont. During the Battle of the Somme in July 1916, the First Football Battalion suffered heavy casualties. (In a 3-day engagement at Delville Wood towards the end of July, 36 members of the Football Battalion were killed). In mid-August, over 700 men had to be drafted in to bring the Footballers' Battalion up to full fighting strength. In November 1916, the 1st Football Battalion took part in the attack at Serre and lost a large number of men, including CSM Joseph Enoch Smith, a former footballer with Chesterfield Town. In his book The First World War, the famous historian A. J. P. Taylor noted that on 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, "the British sustained 60,000 casualties, 20,000 of them killed - the heaviest loss ever suffered in a single day by a British Army or by any army in the First World War".
During the 4 months of the Somme Offensive it has been calculated that the British Commonwealth forces suffered 419,654 casualties (killed, wounded or taken prisoner). At the beginning of 1917, the British Army was desperately short of fighting men and drastic measures had to be taken to bring able-bodied soldiers back into the frontline. It was decided that even those soldiers who had been convicted of serious offences should be released from prison and sent to France to bolster the numbers of men needed to mount another offensive against the German Army. Bob Whiting was among the many soldiers who had their prison sentences suspended and were released to join the British forces on the Western Front.
In March 1917, Private Bob Whiting was returned to 'B' Company of the 17th Middlesex Regiment, who were then taking up their positions for a major offensive on the German lines east of the French city of Arras. (See the map opposite).
Early on the morning of the 28th April 1917, the Football Battalion of the 17th Middlesex Regiment took part in an attack on German-held territory around Oppy Wood. The German troops placed around Oppy Wood were well prepared to meet the British attack. According to a short history of the Football Battalions (which was published for the Memorial to the Footballers' Battalions in 2010), "on 28 April 1917, the 17th Middlesex were virtually annihilated at Oppy Wood during the Arras offensive, only one officer and 41 men returning unscathed from the German lines". Among the hundreds killed that day was 34 year old Private Robert Whiting.
[ABOVE] Soldiers attending a wounded comrade on the Western Front in 1917. Private Robert Whiting was killed by shellfire whilst attending wounded soldiers near Vimy Ridge on 28th April 1917. Private Whiting's commanding officer wrote to Mrs Nellie Whiting to inform her that her husband "lost his life while attending to the wounded under fire, and died while doing his duty both well and nobly".
[ABOVE] A map published in a contemporary newspaper showing the the British advances on the Western Front near the French city of Arras. As the reference key indicates, the original front line existing on 9th April 1917 is represented by a solid black line and the line reached by 5th June 1917 is shown by a line of dashes running from Lens in the north to Queant in the south. The military advances represented by this map are known collectively as the Battle of Arras. The battle began on 4th April 1917 when the British forces began a massive artillery bombardment of German defences along a 20 mile front. On 9th April 1917, Canadian and British infantry forces launched an assault on the German positions at Vimy Ridge and the enemy front line east of Arras. Troops from 17th Service Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment took part in the military action in the area north of the River Scarpe. It was during the Arras offensive near Oppy Wood, in the area of land between Gavrelle and Bailleul, that Private Bob Whiting of 'B' Company, 17th Service Battalion (1st Football), Middlesex Regiment was killed in action on 28th April 1917.
The Death of Private Bob Whiting on 28th April 1917
In May 1917, Mrs Sarah 'Nellie' Whiting was informed that her husband Private Robert Whiting had been killed in action whilst serving with the 17th Middlesex Regiment in France. During the month of May, Mrs Nellie Whiting received letters of condolence and sympathy from her late husband's commanding officer, 2nd Lieutenant J. G. Howard, the acting adjutant of the 17th Middlesex Regiment and Reverend Donald Murray, Chaplain to the Forces in the British Army:
Bob Whiting's widow had also received the customary message of sympathy from the King and Queen and a letter from the Army Council which clearly stated that the death of Private Whiting had occurred in the service of his country. Although Nellie Whiting had received these letters recounting the circumstances of her husband's death, together with an official notification from the authorities dated 15th May 1917 which confirmed that Private Robert Whiting had been "killed in action", rumours continued to circulate which suggested that the former professional footballer had been shot as a deserter in France. These apocryphal stories of Private Whiting's supposed execution for cowardice and desertion obviously stemmed from the earlier episode in Brighton when he went "absent without leave" to be with his pregnant wife Nellie, who was then expecting their third child.
Mrs Nellie Whiting, who had been left a widow with three young sons following, as the Army Council had declared, "the soldier's death in his country's service", was understandably very distressed by the unfounded rumours that her late husband had been executed for desertion. With the lies about her husband still being repeated nearly a year after the end of the war, Mrs Whiting took the extraordinary step of asking local newspapers and the national press to publish the contents of "official documents and letters which disprove a foul calumny on the heroic dead (her deceased husband)". Nellie Whiting was aided in her mission by Albert Underwood, the Secretary of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club. At the request of Mrs Whiting and Mr Underwood, the Sussex Daily News published the following article on 3rd September 1919:
Shortly after his death on the battlefield,
Private Robert Whiting was "buried very near the scene of the action near
Vimy Ridge". Like many of the soldiers who died on the field of
battle, Private Whiting's grave was destroyed during the heavy
shelling that took place during subsequent military action. As is
the case with thousands of First World War soldiers with no known
grave, Private Robert Whiting's name appears on a war memorial in
France. Robert Whiting's name is inscribed on a panel on the Arras
War Memorial in France, one of nearly 35,000 dead soldiers and
by the impressive memorial designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens..
The Three Sons of Robert Whiting
Whiting Family Album
[ABOVE] Lines of naval cadets on parade at the Royal Navy Barracks, Chatham, photographed around 1940. Joseph Frederick Whiting joined HMS Pembroke, the Royal Navy's training establishment in Chatham, as a 15 year old naval cadet on 2nd September 1932. [HMS Arethusa website]
[ABOVE] Joe Whiting's Royal Navy Service Record. This document shows Joe Whiting joining the HMS Pembroke, the Royal Navy's training ship docked at Chatham, in 1932 as a fifteen year old Naval Cadet. Joe Whiting's career in the Royal Navy came to an end 13 years later in 1945, when, after a serious injury, he was invalided out of the Navy as "Physically Unfit for Naval Service".
[ABOVE] A detail from Joe Whiting's Royal Navy Service Record detailing his award of the D. S .M. (Distinguished Service Medal) on 3rd September 1942.
[ Pictures Courtesy of Julia Haydock]
[ABOVE] A recent photograph of Smiths Croft cottage in West Farleigh, Kent, where Joe Whiting and (May) Lovain Whiting lived during the early years of their union. In the mid-1950s, Joe Whiting and his family moved to Marden, a village situated about 8 miles south of the town of Maidstone.
[Photograph: Julia Haydock]
Joe Whiting and his Family and Life in a Kent Village
When Joe Whiting first met May Louvain he could not walk and was confined to a wheelchair. In 1933, at the age of eighteen, May Louvain Rogers had married Frederick Richardson. When May Louvain met and fell in love with Joe Whiting she was already the mother of five children.
May Louvain set up home with Joe Whiting and the couple started a family, producing four children between 1948 and 1954 - Robert (born 1948), James (born 1949), Stewart (born 1951) and Julia (born 1954). May Louvain, had children from her previous marriage and so throughout his life, Joe Whiting had to take on numerous additional jobs to support his large family (a total of 9 children).
Joe Whiting and his family lived in West Farleigh, near Maidstone, until the mid 1950s, when they moved to Marden, a village 8 miles south of Maidstone. After the Second World War, drawing on his experience as a stoker in the Royal Navy, Joe Whiting worked as a "boiler maintenance" man at the Tovil Paper Mill near Maidstone. When he first left school Joe Whiting had trained as a mechanic and, after leaving the Tovil Paper Mill, he went to work for Mrs Tippins, who owned the motor-car garage in the village of Marden. As well as running Tippins' Garage, Joe Whiting drove goods lorries overnight, carrying local produce up to the markets in London. As a skilled mechanic in a rural area, Joe Whiting was in demand to fix farm machinery and to repair motor vehicles owned by the local inhabitants of Marden. A keen motorist and mechanic, Joe Whiting was known to take part in motorcycle side-car racing at tracks in the local area.
After settling in Marden with his family in the mid 1950s, Joe Whiting took a full part in village life. For years, Joe served as a volunteer "stand-by" fireman for the local fire brigade. A talented dancer and musician (Joe played piano, "squeeze-box" - accordion or concertina - trumpet and drums) and would have been a valuable contributor to village dances and entertainments. Joe Whiting was also a bit of an artist. Joe's daughter still owns several of his drawings and it is known that his artwork used to hang on the walls of the local pub.
In 1970, Louvain and Joe Whiting left Marden and moved to the nearby village of Loose, a parish situated 2 miles south of Maidstone. Joseph Frederick Whiting died on 27th February 1974, the day after his 57th birthday. Joe's wife, May Louvain Whiting died in 1998, aged 83.
[ABOVE] An aerial view of Marden, the Kent village where Joe Whiting and his family lived for nearly 20 years. Marden is a village situated about 8 miles south of the town of Maidstone.
FAMILY LINKS - Family Surnames of Ayris (Ayres), Greenhalf, Gorman and Whiting
From the Family History Research undertaken by Julia Haydock
James Ayris (born 1795, Whitney, Herefordshire). In 1807 James Ayris was apprenticed as a cordwainer (shoe-maker) to Charles Ward, a shoe-maker of Whitney.
James Ayris and his wife Mary (born 1792) produced 12 children including two daughters, Martha Ann Aryis (born 1820) and Ann Louisa Ayris (born 1835). [On some documents the family surname is written as "Ayres"].
On 8th November 1841, Martha Ann Aryis married Edward Greenhalf, a coppersmith. Edward Greenhalf died in 1860 leaving Mrs Martha Ann Greenhalf as a twenty-six year old widow with young children, including Robert Greenhalf (born 1852).
Ann Louisa Aryis, Martha' younger sister had married Robert Whiting (born c1835), a mariner, on 24th April 1855. The 1861 census shows Robert Whiting and Mrs Ann Louisa Whiting residing with Ann's parents, James Ayris and Mary Ayris. Later that year, Mrs Ann Louisa Whiting (formerly Aryis) died, leaving Robert Whiting as a young widower.
On 12th February 1863, Edward Greenhalf's widow, Mrs Martha Ann Greenhalf (formerly Aryis) married her late sister's husband Robert Whiting. The children of Martha' first marriage to Edward Greenhalf - Robert Greenhalf (born 1852) - adopted the surname of their uncle and stepfather Robert Whiting.
On 12th March 1882, Robert Greenhalf (born 1852) - who generally went under the name of "Robert Whiting" - married Margaret Gorman (born 1857, Southwark) in the East London district of Mile End.
When the 1881 census was taken Margaret Gorman, was living with her two sisters - Ellen (aged 25) and Eliza (aged 18) - and their teenage brother Edward Gorman in Fern Street, Bow, East London. Twenty-three year old Margaret Gorman and her two sisters were all working as "match makers" (probably as employees of the Bryant & May match factory in Bow), but sixteen year old Edward Gorman was described as an "unemployed labourer". No parents are recorded at Margaret's home, twenty-five year old Ellen Gorman, Margaret's elder sister, being recorded as the "Head of Household".
Robert Greenhalf and Margaret Greenhalf (formerly Gorman) moved to Canning Town, a dockland area in the eastern suburbs of London. The couple's first child Robert Greenalf (later to gain fame as professional goalkeeper for Chelsea F.C. and Brighton & Hove Albion F. C. under the name of Robert 'Bob' Whiting) was born in 1883. Edward Greenhalf, Bob's brother, was born in 1884 [ Birth registered in the district of West Ham during the 3rd Quarter of 1884]. Six more children were born to Margaret and Robert Greenhalf over the next dozen years - Ellen Greenhalf (born c1886, Canning Town), Martha Greenhalf (born 1887, Canning Town), Mary Ann "Polly" Greenhalf (born 1889, Canning Town), Frederick Greenhalf (born 1891, Canning Town), James Greenhalf (born 1894).and Joseph Greenhalf (born 1897). The births of Robert and Margaret Greenhalf's children were registered under the surname of "Greenhalf", yet all eight children later adopted the surname of Whiting.
Thanks to Julia Haydock for providing information on the Whiting / Greenhalf / Ayris Families.
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|I am indebted to Julia Haydock, the
grand-daughter of Robert Whiting, for providing family
photographs and family history information related to Bob Whiting and his
family. Terry Whiting, the son of William James (Jim) Whiting,
another Bob Whiting's children, has also supplied family history information
and family photographs. Thanks to Doreen Whiting and her
daughter Karen Goulder for also providing family photographs and
information about the Whiting Family. Doreen Whiting is the widow of
Robert Whiting, the son of Robert Leonard Whiting (Bob Whiting's eldest
son). I am grateful to Trevor Cox for supplying contemporary
newspaper articles and letters relating to the Bob Whiting Story. Trevor
Cox has collected material on all the fallen soldiers who are
commemorated on the First World War memorials located in Brighton & Hove. I
have also drawn on the research of Ronan Thomas of the City of
Westminster Archives. Other sources used include "When the Whistle
Blows: The Story of the Footballers' Battalion in the Great
War" by Andrew Riddoch and John Kemp (2009),
The Footballers' Battalions: Memorial for the 17th and 23rd
Middlesex (2010), "Albion A-Z: A Who's Who of Brighton
& Hove Albion F. C." by Tim Carder & Roger Harris (1997) and
"Brighton & Hove Albion: A Portrait in Old Picture Postcards"
by David Ticehurst (1994). I would like to pay a special tribute to
the late David Ticehurst who generously gave his permission for me to
use the images from his
wonderful collection of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club
picture postcards before he passed away a few years ago.
Photographs of Royal Navy cadets at HMS Pembroke, the training establishment at the Royal Navy Barracks, Chatham, together with photographs of stokers serving in the Royal Navy during the Second World War can be viewed in the Photo Gallery of the HMS Arethusa website.
To read a detailed account of Ebenezer Pannell senior's life and photographic career, click on the link below
To read an account of the professional photographers who took official pictures of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club click on the link below:
Professional Photographers and Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club
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