SNEATH

This is from research carried out for Wilfred Sneath who died in WW1 – the Sneath family were very active in Thurlby and I will add information on other members as I am able

Wilfred Sneath was born on the 11th February 1888 at Bowthorpe Park, Manthorpe. There is no baptism found for him in either of the Methodists Chapels or at St Firmin’s Church, although in the years previous to his birth there had been many Sneaths baptised at the Methodist High Street Chapel.

Wilfred’s father was Henry Andrew Sneath a Corn Merchant and his mother was Elizabeth Mary (given as Mary on the 1901 census) Garwood, both natives of Thurlby.

In 1891 the family which included an older brother Harry and a younger brother Alec Andrews were living in Northorpe Street, in 1901 this is said to be bottom of Northorpe, this in a house later known as Double Yew Nurseries.

Extract from Thurlby an Ordinary Village with reference to the Sneaths

 “As long ago as the 1890s there was a cricket pitch at Northorpe, the wicket being laid down by the Sneath family “in a paddock behind their farmhouse (now Double Yew Nurseries). It remained in excellent condition into this century although unused for quite a few years during and after World War 1. The outfield was an undulating meadow, still being grazed, and the effect on cricketers’ white apparel can well be imagined.” MK AEN says of it “The field had once been ploughed in the traditional way, so that it wasn’t as flat as the Oval, but the pitch followed the ridges and grooves and was ideal for a party consisting of little more than bowlers and batsmen, endlessly practising. The star player was Frank Riley, who lived nearby and who mustered a quorum whenever possible. Later, numbers and standards improved enough to justify occasional matches with visiting teams.” This would have been in the 1920s. The old stone roller “the Sneath boys used to keep the wicket in condition still exists.”

A childhood friend Hettie Holmes, who lived opposite,  wrote fondly in her memoirs of the great fun that was had as children with her best friends Wilfred and Alec Sneath (an extract of these memoirs is included in this folder).

Both Wilfred and his brother Alec were very clever boys, his brother Harry remembers of Wilfred

“He was a marvellous fella. Oh, he read a book, he could repeat it almost from beginning to end. Had a marvellous memory. And, he never did any revision, and he passed everything he sat with Honours. Wonderful fella, he was.”

The education of both is well documented in reports by the Grantham Journal

In 1900 at the age of 12 years Wilfred won a Kesteven Junior Scholarship to Grantham Technical College.

In 1905 it was reported that

” The Kings Scholarship examinations the Best Student in the Fourth year was Wilfred Sneath and in Best Student in the third year Alec Sneath”

1908 it was reported

Major Scholarship – For the second time in its history the County Scholarship has come to Thurlby, and to a member of the Sneath family, in the person of Mr Alec Andrew Sneath. This perhaps constitutes a record, as both he and his brother Wilfred have previously won Minor Intermediate and Major in turn. He studied at the Technical Institute for five years, and this last year Victoria University, Manchester. He has also satisfied the examiners at the Inter-Arts exam, coming out with a second class honours”

In 1910 Wilfred, now at Manchester University was awarded the Turner Medical Scholarship, value £35, which entitled him to a year’s graduate course in the Medical School. Later in 1910 he gained the Agnew Medical Scholarship, value £20, the second scholarship gained in a month.

Wilfred graduated with a First Class Honours Degree from Manchester University as a Batchelor of Medicine (MB) and Batchelor of Surgery (ChB) and following his success was appointed Demonstrator in Anatomy at Manchester University. The success continued in 1911 when he was awarded an award of £25 for research work in Medical Science.

In 1912 Dr Wilfred Sneath received his Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons (LRCP) and Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS)

In 1912 Wilfred’s brother Harry got married to Phyllis Brown and Wilfred acted as best man, also in attendance was his brother Alec, now the Rev. Alec Sneath, who had just returned from Cape Coast Castle, West Africa where he was the Principle of the Wesleyan Training College.

In June 1913 his mother passed away, she is buried in Thurlby Churchyard.

It was reported in August 1913 that Wilfred had returned home from Manchester and had been admitted to Stamford Infirmary, it doesn’t say what his illness was.

Further success came in December 1913 when passed his examination and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, the climax to a very successful career – still only aged 25.

After filling the post of house-surgeon at Manchester Royal Infirmary and at the Seaman’s Hospital, Greenwich he went into private practice with Dr Cheetham of Ashton under Lyme.

Wilfred enlisted in the Royal Medical Army Corp in 1914 at the beginning of the war taking a temporary commission as a lieutenant.  In November it was reported that he

” has been at a hospital at Calais for the last two weeks has left for the front”

21st November 1914 Grantham Journal posted extracts from a letter home

Extract from a letter from Dr Wilfred Archer Sneath- Reported in the Grantham Journal Saturday 21 November 1914.

It was reported on the 14th November 1914 that Dr Sneath who had been at the hospital in Calais for the last two weeks and has now left for the front

Dr Sneath in France- In an interesting letter from Dr Wilfred Sneath (son of Mr H A Sneath of Thurlby) under date of November 1st from hospital Sophie Barthelot, Rue de Gambetta, Calais, he says:

 “We have now settled down very well and have got about 120 beds opened. Later we hope to have 200. We are working very hard, and doing with very little sleep. Last night I did three operations. At present we have only one operating theatre, but we have equipment for two, and shall have another when we get a room suitable. It is rather heart breaking work here as we get the very worst cases, and many die within a few hours of admission. The number that we operate on is comparatively small, as  ordinary bullet wounds in chest and abdomen do better if left alone, but the shrapnel and shell wounds are awful, and how the nurses do their duty is a mystery. They are real heroines. “

During the course of this letter Dr Sneath states that the Tommies cook their meals. He relates the routine of hospital work, which shows that they are very busy, and he adds that the wounded arrive at all times, mostly at night.

 “As for the news of the war we get very little here save what the wounded soldiers tell us. For the rest we are dependent upon English newspapers, which arrive at six o’clock”

Dr Sneath says he is very fit.  It is interesting to note that the Hospital de Calais is endowed and maintained by the corn merchants on Mark Lane and the Baltic.

The Grantham Journal reported that he was in charge of No19 Field Hospital attached to the Corn Trade Red Cross Hospital, and was at Calais with the Belgium Army until March 1915, when he became Medical Officer to the 6th Welsh Regiment (territorials).

He was mentioned in Dispatches in May 1915, he was promoted to Captain in September 1915

In 1916 Wilfred won the Military Cross, records show him also at this time as a Temporary Major.

Reported in the London Gazette, 22 September 1916

“Temp.Capt.Wilfred Archer Sneath, M.B.,F.R.C.S., R.A.M.C.

For conspicuous gallantry in action. When ordered to keep his guns close behind our attack until a strong point was captured he was informed that all the company officers had become casualties. Leaving his guns with his sergeant he took command of the company under heavy fire. He finally covered the retirement and personally shot four of the enemy”

Extract from a report by the Grantham Journal 30 September 1916

“Capt. Sneath awarded the Military Cross

Among the honours gazetted on Friday week was a Military Cross awarded to Captain Wilfred A. Sneath M.B., F.R.C.S., R.A.M.C. son of Mr H A and the late Mrs Sneath of Thurlby: For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during operations. He was out every night tending the wounded under fire. On one occasion he went out 200 yards in advance of our front line and dressed a wounded man under machine gun fire, afterwards bringing him in. Dr Sneath has had a distinguished career, and has achieved some conspicuous success.”

Wilfred spent time at home on leave in June 1917, he was wounded on the day following his return from leave.

Grantham Journal reported that

“Captain Sneath was returning from a tour of inspection with two officers, when a shell burst, wounding him seriously, and the two accompanying him slightly. Yesterday (Friday) the sad intimation came that Captain Sneath had succumbed to his injuries in a Belgium Hospital, just behind the lines. In a letter received from a fellow officer, a tribute is paid to Captain Sneath’s popularity among officers and men of the regiment to which he was attached- “The Welsh” writes the officer “think there is no one in the world like the old Doc”

Wilfred Archer Sneath sadly died, aged 30, of wounds on the 11th of July 1917- a great loss. He is buried at the Coxyde Military Cemetery in Belgium and is also remembered on the Manchester University Memorial and in St Firmin’s Church, south porch, where there is a plaque erected when the south porch was restored in his memory.

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