By 1916 the early expectations that the Great War would soon be over had long been dispelled and the list of casualties grew at an alarming rate. Bombardier Ernest Fricker who had been the first volunteer from Timsbury to respond to the call to join Kitchener’s army was killed in action on April 4 1916.
Ernest was the fourth son of Samuel and Elizabeth Fricker of Lynch House and he had driven steam road engines for the Timsbury Collieries Co. before joining up. He first went to France in August 1915 and was buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium. A memorial service was held at the Wesleyan Church where the captain of the local branch of the Salvation Army spoke highly of the deceased.
Two others born in Timsbury were also killed in action during 1916. Private John James who was born at Crocombe had moved to South Wales and enlisted in Blackwood Monmouthshire in 1915. He lost his life on October 10 1916 and is also buried in Belgium. Sergeant John Moon who was killed at the end of the year was the oldest villager to be killed in action. Aged 48 his body was never found and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing of the Somme.
The First Battle of the Somme saw some 600,000 lose their lives, two thirds of them British and prompted the introduction of conscription first for single men and then the married. Many men sought exemption and tribunals were held to investigate their requests although it seemed most of these were rejected.
At a typical tribunal held at the Clutton Poor Law Institution Mr A. Ashley, a Timsbury farmer appealed to keep his nephew S.E. Ashley, a cowman in his employ while A. Brayley, a colliery clerk from the village explained that he was the only child of his widowed mother. Both requests were rejected. Conditional exemptions were in fact given to G. Moxham of Timsbury who did farming work and managed a posting business for his widowed mother and to G. Heal a farmer who looked after some 40 acres of land and supported his parents.
Early in 1916 a petition was signed by between 200 and 300 members of the Radstock Co-operative Society asking for a branch to be established in Timsbury. The proposal was supported by the committee and on August 12 the new branch was formally opened by its President Rev. G.A. Ramsay. The new building was said to be of a good substantial structure with the ground floor fitted up as general grocery department and the first floor being used for drapery, clothing, furnishing, hardware and tobacco. The Paulton Prize Brass Band played in front of the new branch premises and a marquee was set up in a field nearby where several hundred people enjoyed a grand tea followed by a public meeting.
The North Somerset Agricultural Co-operative Association Ltd. appointed men to visit all the local villages to buy eggs from people. Timsbury was visited on a Friday and the Association promised that their reps would pay a fair market price for all eggs and poultry.
A party of wounded “Tommies” from the Bath War Hospital were entertained at the new Church Room. Most of the arrangements had been carried out by the Sambourne family of Timsbury House and some 230 soldiers arrived in charabancs to be given a fine spread and then be entertained by the Wesleyan Band of Hope.
The Congregational Sunday School was visited by Mr. Seaman of Bath who gave a lantern lecture on The Pilgrim’s Progress. He placed upon the screen a large number of very fine slides, the lantern being manipulated by Mr. Seaman Junior. The lecture, it was reported, illustrated perfectly the salient points of John Bunyan’s book.