[Return to index page]

The Carbis family and Edwin John Carbis (1883 - 1916)

[Photo by David Martin, from Find a Grave.

I visited Baldhu churchyard
in the mid-1950s with my great-aunt Ruby Dunn  and she showed me this stone commemorating a member of her family killed in the First World War. I had no clear idea of his identity until now, in 2014.

Lance Corporal Edwin John Carbis of the 'D' Company of the 24th Batallion of the Royal Fusiliers was a cousin of my great aunt Ruby and of Frances Ellen (my paternal grandmother). He was born in Kea in 1883, a son of Ellen Eliza Carbis, who was a sister of my great-grandfather William Bennett Dunn. His mother was born in 1858 in Scotland but came to Baldhu to find a spouse, like her other siblings. Her husband William Carbis died in Tomperrow, Chacewater,  on November 11, 1891, aged only 38 (so born in c1853).  She died in Truro on January 3, 1914, aged 56, and was buried with her husband in Baldhu churchyard. (Photo below)

This memorial on their grave (above) commemorate
s their son Edwin John Carbis, who went to fight in France on November 15, 1915 and was killed one year later

The Battle of the Somme took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on either side of the River Somme in France. The Battle of the Ancre 13–18 November 1916 (where Edwin John was killed) was the final large British attack of the Battle of the Somme in 1916, before the winter weather forced a pause in British attacks. He was killed on Monday, November 13, 1916, the first day of the attack aiming to recapture the village of Beaumont Hamel. He has no marked grave, his name is inscribed on the memorial at Thiepval to all those who went missing in action, swallowed by the terrible mud or blown to smithereens.

At the end of the war he was posthumously awarded the standard 3 medals awarded to almost all combatants: the Victory, the British and the 1914-15 Star. (These three medals were sometimes irreverently referred to as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred with Pip representing the Star; Squeak represented the British War Medal; and Wilfred represented the Victory Medal.)
Edwin John's father William Carbis  was born in 1853, the son of the tin miner William Carbis who died February 21, 1901, aged 73, and was buried in Baldhu in the same grave as his wife Harriett who had died earlier, on March 11, 1893 (photo below). A
t the 1861 Census, this older William Carbis was working as a tin miner aged 33, so born around 1828,  living in "Crop Lanes" in Kea (but in the ecclesiastical parish of Chacewater) with his wife Harriet (Barrett) aged 33, his son William aged 8, and another son, John, aged 1. William Carbis the elder was born in Kenwyn, Truro, but his wife and children were all born in Kea. The 1881 Census records the name of the neighbourhood where they were living as Tomperrow. It was part of the 'ecclesiastical paris' of Chacewater but inside the civil parish of Kenwyn.

William Carbis junior lived for many years as manager of gold mines in Charters Towers (Queensland) and at some point brought
his family to Australia, but only his last son was born in Australia. Falling ill with 'consumption' (TB) he returned to Cornwall and from there sent for his family, who were at sea when he died.

The life and death of William Carbis

The Australian career and early death of William Carbis junior are explained by an obituary printed on page 13 of the Northern Mining Register dated Wednesday 18 November, 1891:

It is with regret that we have to record the fact of the decease of Mr William Carbis, the sad event having taken place late last week, at his parent's residence, near Chacewater, Cornwall. Mr. Carbis was, until declining health caused him to resign the appointment, the manager of the Mills' United Gold Mines. He had previously held the position of manager in other mines on the goldfield, and had also carried through many large contracts. In all his business relations he held the entire confidence of the directors of the companies he represented, and was popular with the miners under his control. When Mr Carbis left Charters Towers some months ago, in order to try the effect of a sea voyage; his intention was to return, so his wife and children remained here. His complaint, however, consumption, being in no wise abated, he wrote for his family to join him, and they accordingly left here about a fortnight ago, and. are passengers by the Orizaba. Poor Carbis had a host of friends, who lament his loss, and deeply sympathise with his widow in her sad bereavement.

The Northern Mining Register was the weekly edition of the daily Northern Miner, published in Charters Towers, Northern Queensland. There is a photo on that Wikipedia page of the mines in 1890.

At the 1901 Census, (PDF file) the widowed Ellen Carbis (43, "born in Scotland") was living in a house in Daniell Street, Truro, together with her children: Florence Carbis (20, "teaching Elem. School" born at Kea), Edwin Carbis (17, Grocer’s Assistant, born at Kea), Albert Carbis (15, apprentice, House furnishing, born in South Australia) and her mother Mary Ann Dunn (81, "living on own means").
By the 1911 Census, only Edwin John, still single at 27, was living in 1a Harrison Terrace, Truro, with his mother and a servant. He was working as a Grocer. From there he went to war. His name is inscribed on the Truro War Memorial in Truro's Boscawen Street.

The gravestone of Edwin's paternal grandparents.   Photo by David Martin from Find a Grave.

The gravestone of Edwin's parents. William died in his parents' home in Tomperrow, Chacewater. 
Photo by David Martin from Find a Grave.

The mud and barbed wire at Beaumont Hamel at the time of the battle.

The memorial to those with no grave at Thiepval.

Truro War Memorial in Boscawen Street.

Edwin Carbis on the Truro War Memorial