The Large Family

My mother's father was William James ("Bill") Large (1899 - 1973)

I am not sure how he came to be born in Weymouth in Dorset on 24th August 1899. His father also William James Large had been born in Purton near Crudwell in Wiltshire and was baptised there on 19th January 1829. He was the second eldest son (in a family of some 13 children). His father James Large had been born in the same village in 1799 and had married Jane Francis Sheppard on 23rd August 1825. 

William James Large (senior) was recorded in the 1841 and 1851 Census as still living in Purton. However, the 1871 Census records him living in Midgehill, Lydiard Tregooze in Wiltshire with a housekeeper and two servants with his occupation given as Landowner and Farmer. The 1881 Census records him in Rodborne-Cheney in Wiltshire whilst the Census of 1981 has him back in Lydiard Tregooze.

He was a farmer who appeared to retire in his sixties and having been single all his life proceeded to marry his housekeeper Susan Barnard in about 1895/98. Susan had been born in Huis Episcope in Somerset in 1871 and was only 28 years old to her husband's 70 years when William James junior was born in 1899. Perhaps the move to Weymouth was to escape local gossip etc !

The 1901 Census records him and his wife living in Melcombe Regis, Weymouth in Dorset with William James (junior) being 1 year old. William James (junior) birth certificate gives their home address as 111 Dorchester Road, Weymouth.  They moved again as the 1911 Census records the family in Weston Super Mare on the Somerset coast. By this time William James (junior) was 10 years old and had  younger brothers Robert Sheppard Large (Uncle Bob) 6 years old, Thomas Reginald 4 years old and a younger sister Margaret Jane 2 years old. Another (younger) sister Evelyn is not recorded. 

William James (senior) died in 1914 aged 85 years old and was buried back in Crudwell in Wiltshire. His wife was 43 years old and raised her family in Weston Super Mare where she lived until 1963 when she died aged 93 years old. She is buried with her husband in Crudwell.

William James (junior) attended Weymouth College on the Dorchester Road in Weymouth and possibly boarded when his family moved to Weston. He may have joined the Royal Flying Corp (RFC) to fight in WW1 upon leaving this College (see below). Later he joined Lloyds Bank and married Stella Bond (b 17/7/1900) from Bridgewater on 12th January 1924. They lived at Southview in Dulverton and their three daughters Pam, Kay and Margaret were born there. The family came to Weymouth before WW2 started in 1939 and lived in Spa Road. They later moved to Lynmoor Road. Bill & Stella moved to Upwey in 1960's and lastly to Brunel Drive in Preston, Weymouth in the 1970's. Bill enjoyed playing cricket and was also a keen gardener. Bill retired from from the Weymouth branch of Lloyds Bank in 1965 as Chief Cashier.

Bill died on 25th July 1974 aged 74 years and Stella on 13th May 1988 aged 97 years. They are buried together in the churchyard at St Laurence in Upwey, Weymouth.

Bill Large with his wife Stella (nee Bond) and my mother Pamela Mary. 
(Pamela was born in 1924 so this photo would be about 1926)

First World War - Royal Flying Corps :

Bill Large is recorded as having joined the RFC in 1916 aged 17 years and given the service No 23587. The birth certificate that I have is a certified copy dated 29th January 1917. It is not known where he served initially but in the last year of the war, he is noted in his squadron's records :

211 Squadron in World War I

No 211 Squadron RAF formed on 1 April 1918 out of No 11 Squadron RNAS, which itself had re-formed as a bomber squadron at Petit Synthe on 10 March 1918 after a brief existence as a RNAS fighter unit from March to August 1917.

From Bill’s RAF record (below) :   (UK RAF 0751 -876 page 42)
Official No : 96623
He joined the Royal flying Corp on 19th Sept 1917 and the newly formed Royal Air Force on 1st April 1918.
His civilian occupation is given as Bank Clerk
Person to be informed of casualties : Mrs J Large, Whitehall 39 Charlton Rd, Weston S Mare (Mother)
Height : 5 feet  9.5  inches; Chest : 31.5 inches  - no other details entered.
Casualty Card was destroyed as no entry made.
Movements (difficult to read !):
RDC/127    From unit : RD ; To Unit : RD East Stn ? 27/7/18
                 From unit :  Eastchurch to unit  1 SAG (H) ?? 10/8/1918
                 From Unit : 1 SAG (H) to unit 1 SAG (R) 24/8/1918
                 From unit : 1 SAG (R) - discharged.

In another Summary record (RAF Air 10 : Air P Piece 237 page 934) Bill is listed :
96623  Large WJ  - Classification :  Misc Aviator;  RFC Rank A Mech 3;  New rank in Air Force : Private 2; Date of Joining : 19/9/1917
No promotions recorded; Pay rate : 1s 6d;  Terms of Enlistment : D.W.  ??

< The typical clothes worn by a RFC observer
in an effort to combat the cold !

In the record below Bill is recorded as 2nd Lt 

From late October 1918, the Squadron operated purely as a reconnaissance and photographic unit, continuing to give a good account of itself against enemy aircraft in carrying out its duties. During a photographic reconnaissance sortie in the final week of the Great War, a formation of 211 Squadron DH9s shot down 3 Fokker biplanes and drove another down out of control.

    4 November 1918
    “Weather: mist in early morning, fine afterwards. 6½ tons of bombs dropped by night and 29½ tons dropped by day. Considerable enemy aircraft activity.[...]
     A formation of 211 Sqn, while on a photographic reconnaissance, was attacked by a formation of EA whose leader was fired on by the pilots and Observers of two machines—2nd Lts CH 
    Dickins (C) and WJ Large; 2nd Lts WG Watson (C) and Sgt C Lamont. This EA went on fire and broke up, the pilot leaving the machine in a parachute which did not open. 2nd Lt Adam, Observer, fired at another of the EA which passed close above him. This machine fell in a spin and was seen by other officers to burst into flames on hitting the ground. 2nd Lt GE Moore, Observer, also destroyed an EA which was seen to crash by two other Observers.”
    RAF Communique
    (C) Canadian officer
    The matching of personnel as aircraft crews is at odds here with the published account of individual aircraft, below, nor does the Combat in the Air form of the day assist in resolving the conflict.

    WJ Large

       2nd Lt


        November 1918     

    E8962. 1/3rd share Fokker destroyed 4 November 1918

    2nd Lt W J Large - 2nd in RHS front row - 13 Nov 1918 Officers of 211 Squadron RAF

    Officers of 211 Squadron RAF 13 November 1918 (Norrie Collection, 211 Newbury Squadron ATC)

    A print of this same image, held in the collection of Arthur Bernard Bedford (who is fourth from the left, rear), was captioned with these names on the rear. 

    Thanks to John Grech and the Bedford family for this added information.

      Front row: Palmer, Miller, Tyler, Blanchfield, Hope, McClellan, Taber, Axford, Gairdner, Major Reid, Lett, Bishop, Mousley, Drake, Paget, Moore, Large, Norrie.
      Back row: Drudge, Thomas, Lole, Bedford, St. Oegger, Dickins, Snowden, Robinson, Keary, Stevenson, Watson, Gill, White, Tyrol, Watts, Adam, Dark. 

        A further 200 DH9s were ordered in March 1918 from the Aircraft Manufacturing Co, Hendon, with 230hp Puma engines, serial nos E8857 to E9056, included these 211 Squadron allocations

          To 211 squadron 29 September 1918. During a bombing raid on the morning of 5 October 1918, the pilot 2nd Lt VGH Phillips was wounded by enemy aircraft fire just before reaching the target but pressed on. On the way back the aircraft again came under fire from enemy aircraft, wounding the Observer 2nd Lt AF Taylor and shooting the aileron controls away. Phillips succeeded in reaching British lines and force-landed just West of Roulers at about 1000hrs. Attempts to salvage the machine were frustrated by shell-fire, only the engine and gun being retrieved.

          From the Reception Park to 1 Air Issues 27 September 1918 and delivered to 211 Squadron 30 September 1918. Very late in the Great War, on the afternoon of 9 November this aircraft was being flown by pilot Lt WF Blanchfield and Observer 2nd Lt TR Lole when at 1515hrs they destroyed a Fokker DVII, south of Charleroi. By 23 February 1919, E8880 was on charge with 98 Squadron, thence to 8 Aircraft Acceptance Park on 8 March.

          Taken on charge 25 September 1918, three days later the aircraft took off at 1130hrs to bomb Staden and was last seen after the raid in control West of the target. The pilot, 2nd Lt WJ Johnson was taken prisoner but died of his wounds. His Observer, Sgt Mechanic WE Jones MM survived and also fell captive.

          Delivered to the Squadron on 8 October 1918. Flown in the hectic action of 4 November by Lt EG Gaff with 2nd Lt WJ Large, by Large’s shooting the pair were awarded 1/3 share in the Fokker also attacked by Dickins and Adam (B7626) and Watson and Lamont in D551 ‘X’.

          The two photographs below are actually from a company selling a scale model of the AMC DH.9. 

          As the observer and gunner Bill Large would have been behind his pilot to use his camera and also the Lewis gun and to physically drop bombs over the side. All this very exposed to the elements and, of course, enemy fire.


The AMC DH.9 (Aircraft Manufacturing Company de Havilland design 9) bomber was intended to be an evolutionary successor to the highly regarded 275hp V12 Rolls Royce Eagle powered DH.4. Due to the existing and expected demand for Rolls Royce Eagle engines in the rapidly expanding RFC & RNAS the DH.9 was designed to be powered by the BHP (Beardmore-Halford-Pullinger) ‘straight 6’ engine which initially promised 300hp. The DH.9 utilized many proven components from the DH.4 such as wings, undercarriage, tailplane and basic fuselage design. Changes included moving the pilot rearwards for improved communication with the gunner, the petrol tank moved forward and the nose was redesigned to accommodate the new engine. It was intended to have a greater range than the DH.4 allowing it to bomb targets inside Germany. Alas it was not to be, and the DH.9 proved to be a great leap backwards.


As with so many Great War aircraft the tale of the DH.9, itself a highly competent design, is intrinsically linked to that of its engine. The BHP engine was put into mass production as the Siddeley-Deasy ‘Puma’ and never consistently achieved the promised 300hp, in actual fact its output was only 230hp and, to add insult to injury, it proved to be staggeringly unreliable. The 300hp BHP engine powered DH.9 prototype was converted from AMC built DH.4 A7559 and first flew in July 1917. The first production DH.9, Siddeley-Deasy powered AMC built C6059, took to the air in November 1917 and it was almost immediately clear that, because of the engine, performance was not going to surpass that of the DH.4. Nevertheless, the DH.9 was already in mass production with 11 different manufacturers, as was the flawed Puma engine, meaning that British bomber squadrons would now have to make do with it… or nothing at all. Although production orders for the DH.9 were placed in June 1917, engine and production delays meant that aircraft were not delivered in serious numbers until the end of 1917 but this situation gradually improved so that eventually a new DH.9 was completed every 40 minutes.


The first units to go into action with the DH.9 were 98, 206 and 211 Squadrons of the newly formed RAF in April 1918 at which time the shortcomings of the Puma engine immediately made themselves known. Broken valve springs, cracked cylinders and defective altitude controls on the carburetters lead to serious engine reliability problems which frequently required a hasty landing in German occupied territory. Towards the middle of 1918 the problems with the carburetters were overcome which markedly improved performance and finally allowed a fully loaded DH.9 to reach it’s intended ceiling of 15,500’. Several other improvements were made such as adding bracing struts under the horizontal tailplane, an additional magneto access door on the port side of the fuselage and extending the exhaust manifold to funnel the fumes away from the crew. Despite its numerous problems the DH.9 soldiered on until the Armistice and beyond, serving post war with the RAF on occupation duties in Germany as well as in Africa before being declared obsolete in 1921. It also saw widespread foreign service in The Netherlands, The Netherlands East Indies, Greece, Poland, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, India, Russia, Bolivia, Chile, Estonia, Ireland, Persia, Peru and South Africa as well as extensive civil use as a passenger aircraft. Any history here is of necessity very brief so we encourage you to seek out the references listed below for a more thorough understanding of this aircraft.       


While there is little controversy about the common colour scheme of PC10 (Protective Covering number 10) for the upper surfaces and CDL (Clear Doped Linen) lower surfaces, there is a great deal of controversy as to what colour PC10 actually was. Made from mixes of yellow ochre, iron oxide and lamp black pigments it varied between olive drab and chocolate brown, depending on the mix. It appears that early, fresh PC10 appeared more olive drab while later mixes and aircraft exposed to the elements for some time would appear more chocolate brown. Plywood panels appear to have been painted Battleship Grey or with a PC10 equivelant paint as were the aluminium cowlings, although some were left unpainted. Interior metal brackets and fittings were usually painted black. Exterior metal brackets attached to the ply areas of the fuselage have also been noted as black but usually they were overpainted when the Battleship Grey or PC10 equivalent paint was applied. All fabric surfaces exhibited a gloss appearance when new which would weather to a semi-gloss or matt finish in service.

Wingspan: Length: Max Weight: Max Speed:
42’ 4&5/8” (12.94m) 30’ 9” (9.37m) 3669lb (1664kg) 111mph (179kph)
No Manufactured: Production: Engine: Ceiling:
Approximately 3900 July 1917 to 1919 230hp Siddeley-Deasy Puma 15500’ (4724m)
.303” (7.7mm) Vickers and 1 or 2 .303” (7.7mm) Lewis guns. Up to 460lb (208kg) of bombs.

The Large Family of Crudwell in Wiltshire :

The last member of the Large family in Crudwell was Robert Sheppard "Bob" Large who lived at Home Farm east of the church in the village (Link : and I think was associated somehow with the famous racehorse called "Crudwell". He died in 1991.

My grandfather Bill was the eldest child of his family with Bob being a younger brother. Bob inherited the silver prize mugs (see below) and I therefore presume he was related to Thomas Large (the Mr T Large inscribed on the mugs). There were a total of three mugs and upon Bob's death, one each were given the Bill's daughters Pam (Crumbleholme) , Kay (Leighton) and Margaret  (Thompson).

There are numerous Large families in the Purton / Crudwell area and this research is on going at June 2016. My mother Pam recalls an uncle Ernest Large and two sisters all farming in the Crudwell area.

Kelly's Directory of 1915 lists four farmers in Crudwell : 

West Crudwell, Quelfurlong and Murcott appear on the map below and Manor farm is located near the village itself.
Thomas Large obviously named his racehorse of 1885 after the farm.

Mr W and Mr T Large had race horses and a very busy year in 1885 :

This beautiful pair of silver 2 pint mugs were won by T Large's "Murcott" in 1885 at the V.W.H United Hunt Steeplechase

From The Racing Calendar Steeple Chases Past for the season 1885
By J E & J P Weatherby Vol 19  London

1885 - Freney Fell : The Middleton Hunter's Hurdle Plate : Mr Large's Nethercote 4 yrs

1885 - (16th January) Wye, Kent : Mr W Large's Nethercote 4yrs

1885 - (Feb) Leamington Handicap Steeplechase : Mr Large's Nethercote 4yrs

1885 - (5th March) Moreton in Marsh : Mr W J Large's Nethercote 4yrs
            Farmers Plate Winner Mr Lewis's Punchinello sold to Mr W J Large for 78 guineas 
            (i.e. £78 + £3.90 = £81.90 which in 2016 is worth about £7300 !)

1885 - (April) (Course ??) - United Farmer's Cup : Mr T Large's Murcott 6yrs

1885 - (9th April) Plumpton, Hunter's Steeplechase : Mr W Large's Punchinello 4yrs

1885 - (Course ??) Selling Hunters Hurdle Race Mr W Large's Punchinello 4yrs

1885 - (16th April) Oakset Park ? : Mr T Large's Murcott 5yrs

1885 -(11th June) Wye, Kent : Mr W Large's Nethercote 4yrs

1885 - (26th June) Derby Summer Meeting  Sellers Hunter's Flat Race : Mr W Large's Nethercote 4yrs

A similar calendar published for the following year has no Large entries.

Parish Registers 

1575 - 19th October : Walter Spensar married Amye Large - (Southbroom) 

1709 - 23rd May : William Baker married Grace Large of Purton 

1793 - 4th March : James Viveash married Ann Large. - (Castle Eaton)
(Source : Phillimores Vol CV - Wilts Vol VI 1908)

Owners of Land in Crudwell in 1873 - no entries for Large.
(Source : Crudwell OPC website)