Ronald John Savill was born in Brentwood but lost his mother when he was only a year old. His father, a tea dealer, remarried and the family came to Chelmsford by 1901. Ronald worked for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners before joining the army in February 1915. He gained an officer’s commission in August 1916 and was killed in action near Arras in April 1917 within three months of his father’s death. His home was in Southborough Road.
SAVILL, RONALD JOHN,
Second Lieutenant, 3rd Battalion, Essex Regiment attached to 9th Battalion, Essex Regiment
(formerly of 18th Battalion, Royal Fusileers)
He landed in France on 14th November 1915 and was identified there as a soldier with potential to become an officer. He completed his application for an officer’s commission on 7th March 1916. His application included a certificate of good character signed by the Vicar of Moulsham. His application was endorsed by the officer commanding his battalion on 12th March 1916.
Ronald was transferred to England on 27th March 1916 to being officer training at Number 1 Officer Cadet Battalion at Denham in Middlesex. He was discharged from the Royal Fusileers upon gaining his commission as a Second-Lieutenant and posted to the 3rd Battalion of the Essex Regiment on 4th August 1916. Then he was posted to the 9th Battalion of the Essex Regiment and embarked from England for France on 14th September 1916 to join his unit.
Ronald’s father died on 5th February 1917. News of his death appeared in the Essex County Chronicle four days later:
“We regret to state that Mr. John Thos. Savill, of Jesmond, Southborough Road, died with painful suddenness on Monday evening. He was a great walker, and had been to Danbury. Near to his home on his return he was overcome by heart trouble, and fell. He was discovered by Nurse Hutchinson, of Upper Bridge Road, and was removed by some soldiers to the Hospital, where he expired shortly after admission. Dr. Storrs was able to certify the death was due to heart failure, probably accelerated by the intense cold.
Mr. Savill, who was 61 years of age. had suffered from heart trouble for many years, although he had not recently been medically attended. He was a well-known tea merchant, a genial gentleman, and much respected. He was the son of the late Mr. John Savill. of Orange Hall, Gosfield.
Keenly interested in all kinds of outdoor sports, he had of recent years confined himself more to bowls, and was a generous supporter of the Chelmsford and Falcon Bowling Club, as well as a playing member. He was also very fond of nature, and took long country walks. He was particularly well informed on the customs of wild birds.
Deceased was twice married - in 1882 to Miss Bessie A. Moull, daughter of Mrs. K. Moull, of Weston Lodge, Brentwood, whose death took place six years later, and in 1896 to Miss Rosina A. Green. daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Green, of West Bergholt.
The second wife, who is an invalid, one son, Ronald J., who is an officer at the Front and one daughter, Miss Margaret. B Savill, survive, and with them much sympathy is felt. The funeral will take place at the Borough Cemetery to-morrow afternoon, following a service at St. John’s Church at 3.30 p.m.
From 28th December 1916 to 7th January 1917 Ronald was on leave - if he had come home it would be his last visit because he went wounded and missing near Arras on 30th April 1917 while attached to the 9th Battalion of the Essex Regiment.
On 18th May 1917 the Essex Weekly News reported:
“Second-Lieut. Ronald J. Savill, Essex Regt., officially reported wounded and missing, is the only son of the late Mr. John T. Savill, of Southborough-rd., Chelmsford, who died suddenly last February. Before joining the Army Lieut. Savill was engaged in the office of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.”
Ronald’s body was never confirmed found and on 27th November 1917 he was presumed killed in action. He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial. Pas de Calais in France. His name is not among the 359 remembered by the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford, though he is commemorated on the war memorial at St. John’s Church, Moulsham.
Ronald left an estate valued at £2,347 19s. 10d. Ronald’s step-mother died on 18th May 1920 in Colchester. She left an estate of £1,359 4s. 6d. Ronald’s sister died unmarried in 1962.
Ronald was born in Brentwood on 18th January 1884, the son of the tea merchant John Thomas Savill and Bessie A. Moull. His father had been born in Sible Hedingham in 1855. Ronald’s parents had married at St. Peter’s Church, South Weald on 28th September 1882.
Ronald had a sister, Margaret Bessie Savill (born in 1885 in Brentwood), but their mother died on 17th December 1885 at Craven Villa in Brentwood, perhaps as a consequence of Margaret’s birth.
In 1891 the census recorded seven year-old Ronald living with his widowed father, aunt Sophia Savill, sister Margaret and two servants in High Street, Brentwood where his father was a tea merchant and grocer. Later that year Ronald’s father married Rosina Ann Green. She had been born in West Bergholt in 1859.
Ronald was educated at Brentwood School.
In 1901 the census found Ronald, aged 15, living with his father, step-mother and a servant in a large house in Springfield Road, Springfield. Ronald was still at school and his father was a wholesale tea merchant.
A decade later the family of four and their servant were still living at the same address, then number 193 Springfield Road (today’s number 79). Ronald was employed as a clerk with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. His father was still running an apparently successful wholesale tea dealing business. Ronald and his father subsequently moved to Jesmond in Southborough Road, Chelmsford (later given teh number 11, pictured) while his father also had a home at 38 Mincing Lane in London.
Ronald joined the army in London on 6th February 1915, enlisting for the duration of the war, and was posted two days later as Private 6252 in the 18th Battalion of the Royal Fusileers. He gave his home address as Southborough Road in Chelmsford. His army medical recorded that he was 31 years old, employed as a civil servant, five feet six inches tall, and weighed 118 pounds. He had a chest measurement of 34 and a half inches and ‘fair’ physical development. His distinctive marks were ‘numerous scars on back.’ His next of kin was his father