cross logo
HOME PAGE
MEMORIAL CROSS
HISTORY of the CROSS
ROLL of HONOUR
LINKS

Pte. Henry Palmer
4823 Devonshire Regiment

305537 Royal Engineers
696343 Labour Corps
508944 Labour Corps



      Henry Palmer holds a rather unique place in our Winkleigh story, serving originally in the Devonshire Regiment in the period of the Boer War, then, following a gap re-enlisting in July 1917 into the Royal Engineers, transfer in and out of the Labour Corps, re-enlisting again for the period up until 1920, and then re-enlisting for the last time for a further 2 years of service (in fact being discharged after a year and a half), and transfer into the Pioneer Corps, in all extending over a period of 23 years. We are fortunate indeed that these military documents have survived to tell us the story because the great majority of the so-called ‘burnt documents’ were lost in the blitz. Having been wounded in the Boer War Henry Palmer was given a pension, and eventually the bulk of the documents were transferred to the Ministry of Pension records where they survived the bombing. The documents are also important for a second reason: very few soldiers’ records survived intact from the ruthless ‘weeding’ that took place in the early ‘30’s in an attempt to reduce the overall huge bulk: for some reason these particular pension documents were untouched, and thus we have a very seldom seen, and almost complete picture of the military bureaucratic machine at work during the war and beyond. Most are stamped ‘deceased’ : we have no conclusive evidence as yet to support the date of Henry’s death, but it must have occurred during the weeding process between the two wars, and the last known address after discharge was in Birmingham. In the 2nd quarter of 1934 the death of a Henry Palmer aged 55 was recorded in Staffordshire.

      The surviving records are referred to in the text by number, such as (Document 1); clicking on these numbers displays an image of that document. Alternatively, all the documents can be seen on one page by clicking the Army Records thumbnail on the right. This is comparatively large archive, certainly the largest that has survived of any of our Winkleigh heroes to date, and probably the largest that exists for any of our men. The documents, available only on line from the Public Record Office, exist in two sections, one roughly covering his war service from enlistment in 1917 and re-enlistment in 1919 (Pension Records archive), and the other his earlier life in the 1st Battalion Devonshire Regiment in the Boer War. However, some documents can be found in both records, and all are in a very disordered state. Handwriting is often hurried, abbreviated and faded so interpreting, putting them together and sorting in some sort of chronological order has been a lengthy task, the results of which are numbered in the following chart, for easy reference to the text. In addition, all the local newspapers have been combed for references to Henry’s life, with three references that give some insight into village life in Winkleigh 100 years ago, emphasising the class differences in that world, the workhouse system, the lack of welfare available, and the turmoil of lives subject to poverty, harsh rules and punishments.

Service Document

Doc. number

Date

Details

Devonshire Regiment

1

24.02.1897

Transfer from the 4th Devons Militia to Regular Army. Attested into the 1st Battalion Devonshire Regiment.

Devonshire Regiment

2

24.02.1897

Description of Henry Palmer on Attestation record.

Devonshire Regiment

3

24.02.1897

Description doc. added to Attestation Document, showing the  military history: Posted 2nd Battalion depot for basic training on 7th July 1897, posted 1st Battalion on 2nd February 1899. Discharged as medically unfit (wounded) on 27th July 1900, having served 3 years 189 days.

Devonshire Regiment

4

24.02.1897

Military History Sheet showing education at The Duke of York’s Military School, and service in 1st Devons, Home, East Indies and South Africa.

Western Times
5th January 1912

    5

05.01.1912

Henry Palmer in court charged with desertion of his family, with the threat of losing his pension. Sentenced to two months hard labour.

Western Times
1st October 1912

     6

01.10.1912

In court charged with stealing fowls in Winkleigh. Fined rather than imprisoned to save him (once again) from losing his pension.

Enlistment: call to medical board, 1917

     7

24.01.1917

No exemption from the 1917 Military Service Act, despite having been discharged in 1900.

Counterfoil

    8        

24.01.1917

Attendance at Medical Board. We know that Henry was classified BII.

Descriptive Report on Enlistment

    9

12.07.1917

Henry now living at No.8 Court, No. 2 House, Pritchett Street, Birmingham.

Descriptive Report on Enlistment

  10

12.07.1917

Marriage date November 8th 1902.
Children’s names and birth dates.
Service record: Home 12.07.17 – 18.09.17
France (in fact Italy) 19.09.17 – 25.03.19
Home 26.03.19-09.06.19

Record of Service in Italy

  11
  

 

Embarked for Italy to serve as a Sapper stevedore in the Royal Engineers, 19.09.17 – 26.03.19. (Reached Italy on 28.09.17. after journey of 9 days). Graded as ‘Proficient’.

Royal Engineers record of service Page1
(Service and Casualty Form)

  12

Originally
12.07.17, then added to, probably
10.08.19

Enlisted at age 46 years 154 days. Served initially in the Royal Engineers, as a Sapper.

Royal Engineers record of service Page 2
(Service and Casualty Form)

  13
  13a 

  13b
  13c

04.06.19





12.04.19

Discharged 04.06.19 to GHQ Labour Corps, prior to voluntary re-enlistment.
 Royal Engineers Identity Doc. for working on the Inland Waterways.
Protection Certificate issued 12.04.19 between demobilisation and re-enlistment.
Certificate of Transfer to Reserve Class Z on demobilisation 09.05.19 and transfer to Labour Corps 10.07 19

Attestation on re-enlistment

 14

05.06.19

Re-enlistment into post-war army. Age 46 years 154 days. From service in Pioneer Corps army number 508944, transfer to army reserve.

Descriptive report on re-enlistment

 15

30.05.19

Henry had volunteered to re-join the army, about 1 month before his de-mobilisation.

Statement of Services

 16

05.06.19 – 14.10.20

Re-joined at Birmingham. (By this time classified as BIII). Served in 188 Labour Company. Paid Acting Corporal 25.09.20. Discharged as ‘surplus to requirements’ with character ‘very good’.

Military History Sheet

17

Completed 14.10.20

Home 05.06.19 - 30.06.19
B.E.F.  01.07.19 - 24.09.20
Home  25.09.20 - 14.10.20 

Marriage and children’s birth dates recorded. (See also Doc. 10)
Births of children: Richard Henry 31.03.04, Elsie 15.02.08, Percy Arthur 02.05.10, Evelyn Maud 05.06.13, Ann 28.02.16

Service record in 188 Labour Corps
Army number 696343

18





18a and 18b

Completed 14.10.20

Posted overseas 01.07.19 to Ypres sector for cemetery work.
14 days leave to UK 24.11.19 – 08.12.19
Appointed paid Corporal and employed as company cook  27.01.20
14 days leave to UK 16.03.20 – 30.03.20
Posted 09.04.20 to F Coy. the 239 General Reserve Unit (GRU) and reverted to Private. 
30.06.20 volunteers for further extended service.
14 days leave to UK 12.07.20 – 26.07.20
Extended service to 31.12.20 granted.
Appointed Acting-Corporal (Paid) 09.04.20
14 days leave to UK from Ypres 14.07.20 – 28.07.20
24.09.20 Posted to UK for discharge, Park Royal, Willesden.

Typical army complication regarding appointment as Acting Corporal and subsequent reversion to Private on posting to 239 Unit.

Casualty Form posting Home from Ypres

19

24.09.20

Posted Home via Calais to Park Royal, Willesden.

Service and Casualty Form in Labour Corps Page 1

20

Completed 14.10.20

Repeat of Service record, (Doc. 18)

Service and casualty Form in Labour Corps Page 2

21

Completed 14.10.20

Pension contribution 1 year and 123 days.

Notification of Discharge to the Reserve
Army Number 696343

22

27.09.20

Discharged from Labour Corps.

Parliamentary , aged 31 and a farm labourer, Registration Index

23

 

Henry Palmer is granted the right to vote at the General Election held on 14th December 1918. 

Acknowledgement of receipt of the Victory and British Medals.

24

20.03.22

Medal Card is attached to this site.

      The story begins with the 1881 Census. Henry, born 1880, was aged 1, born in Winkleigh to John Palmer, aged 31, a farm labourer also born in Winkleigh and his wife Anne, 28, born in Okehampton. The family were living in Barton Road (sometimes known as Bowrick Road). Henry was then very much the baby of the family. Richard (aged 12), John (9) and Susan (6) were all at Winkleigh school, and William was aged 4. By 1891 Henry was 11 and two more children had been born: Elizabeth (5) and Emily (2). Susan was helping at home, while Richard and John had moved on and William (aged 11, too young to have left school) was also elsewhere. The 1901 census now records the family living in a cottage on Church Hill. William was a farm labourer, while Henry, aged 21, was described as an ‘army pensioner’ and ‘handyman’. Elizabeth and Emily were still at home while yet two more children, Anne (11) and Mary (9) had been born.

      As soon as he could Henry joined the Devon Militia, the precursor of the Territorial Army. Up to 1908, Britain had a tradition of organising local part-time military units known as the Militia and the Volunteers. These had often been created during times of national crisis but with the exception of service during the Boer War in South Africa (1899-1902) had generally remained at home as part-time, local defence, units. The 1908 army reforms carried out by Minister of War Richard Burdon Haldane, hotly debated and not universally agreed, essentially did away with these old units and replaced them with the Territorial Force. It remained a part-time form of soldiering (hence the nickname "Saturday Night Soldiers"), whose stated role was home defence. Men were not obliged to serve overseas, although they could agree to do so, but in 1914 all this changed and the Territorial Army was mobilised for war.

      Henry joined the Devon Militia as soon as he was old enough, in 1896, but then transferred as soon as possible, at the age of 17, into the Devonshire Regiment (Document 1). His physical appearance is recorded (Document 2), 5ft 5 and two-eighths, grey eyes, brown hair. After initial training at the Exeter depot until the end of May, waiting to be old enough to be sent overseas, he was posted on the 1st June to the 2nd Battalion serving at home for the time being. On 2nd February 1899 he was posted to the 1st Battalion, serving in the East Indies where he remained until 20th September 1899, (Documents 3 and 4). However, with the coming of the Second Boer War (October 1899 – May 1902) the 1st Devons were required for the ‘second phase’, after Lord Roberts had replaced General Buller. Henry served in the battalion from 21st May to the 31st August 1900, having been wounded in the leg. Now medically unfit for further service, but awarded an army pension, his discharge took place at Woolwich. He had served for 3 years and 189 days, and was still only 20 years old when he returned to the family in Church Hill, Winkleigh.

      The 2nd Boer war had three distinct phases. In the first phase, the Boers mounted pre-emptive strikes into British-held territory in Natal and the Cape Colony, besieging the British garrisons of Ladysmith, Mafeking and Kimberley. The Boers then won a series of tactical victories at Colenso, Magersfontein and Spionkop against a failed British counter-offensive to relieve the sieges. In the second phase, after the introduction of greatly increased British troop numbers under the command of Lord Roberts, the British launched another offensive in 1900 to relieve the sieges, this time achieving success. After Natal and the Cape Colony were secure, the British were able to invade the Transvaal, and the republic's capital, Pretoria, was ultimately captured in June 1900. In the third and final phase, beginning in March 1900, the Boers launched a protracted hard-fought guerrilla war against the British forces, lasting a further two years, during which the Boers raided targets such as British troop columns, telegraph sites, railways and storage depots. In an effort to cut off supplies to the raiders, the British, now under the leadership of Lord Kitchener, responded with a scorched earth policy of destroying Boer farms and moving civilians into concentration camps.

      The account of Henry’s wounding was first reported in the North Devon Journal on 26th April 1900, (over 3 months after the event), which stated:

‘Everyone knows the gallant part taken by the 1st Battalion Devon Regiment at the Ladysmith assault. Among the local wounded was Private Henry Palmer aged 21, Church Hill Street, Winkleigh, 3 years service.’

      On the same day the paper reported 8 deaths and 3 more wounded of the Devons. On 4th August 1900 ‘The Western Times’ gave a vivid and detailed account of his homecoming:

‘RETURN OF WINKLEIGH MAN’

‘Private Henry Palmer, who is barely 20 years of age, has returned home to Winkleigh. Palmer was wounded by shell at Wagon-hill on January 6th last, his right leg being badly shattered, and it is said to be of no use to him now. He returned from the hospital at Woolwich on Tuesday morning, and had a hearty and spontaneous reception. Upon the arrival of the conveyance, which contained Mr and Mrs John Palmer and the young soldier - their son - the horse was taken out and a number of men drew the carriage. The Board School children formed into procession, and there were many adults present. Headed by the Winkleigh Band the procession, still increasing, paraded through New Town, Exeter-road, Vine-street, South-street, Redlane, Fore-street, Court-walk, making a halt at Sir Robert Crosthwaite's, of Winkleigh Court, and at Mrs Heysham's, at the Old Parsonage, then back through Fore-street to the Vicarage, after which the brave young soldier was taken to his home. The church bells were rung during the day, and for a few hours business was almost at standstill. Such enthusiasm in this direction proves that personal loyalty in this corner of country is not a cold, perfunctory thing.’

      Henry was discharged and awarded the Queen’s Silver Medal with clasp inscribed ‘Defence of Ladysmith’, The Silver Medal was granted to all British and Colonial troops, as well as support staff such as nurses, who served in South Africa between November Nov.3rd 1899, and February 28th 1900, both dates inclusive. 26 clasps were issued. The obverse of the medal has the crowned bust of Queen Victoria with the inscription 'VICTORIA REGINA ET IMPERATRIX', the figure of Britannia facing right with her hand stretched out holding a wreath. Behind her is her shield bearing the Union Flag and in the background can be seen the ships of the Royal Navy and soldiers marching into battle.

      The Battle of Wagon Hill on January 6th 1900 was the 1st Battalion of the Devons’ proudest exploit of the war, and the one, sadly, which caused the most casualties, 28 per cent of the Battalion, one of whom was Henry Palmer. A full account of the two battles in which Henry Palmer was involved, together with a photograph of a Queen’s Silver Medal, are added to the attached documents.

      Henry had returned home to the village a hero, given a hero’s welcome. It must have been one of the very best moments so far of his young life, but what was there to follow? No chance of real work, all the excitement of service life in the West Indies or South Africa gone forever, a real man’s job over, pensioned off before life had really begun - Henry must have languished in boredom and frustration, picking up what casual work he could, as he gradually recovered from his wound. In the 1901 census, still living with the family on Church Hill, he is described as ‘Army Pensioner and handyman’. On 8th November 1902 he was married in Winkleigh church to Jesse Stacey (Named in Document 13a and other Attestation documents). Jesse was born about 1879 in Calstock, near Letchley, Cornwall. Recorded in the 1901 census as aged 22, she was the daughter of Richard Stacey, a copper miner, and his wife Hannah. Jesse had two sisters, Mary 15 and Florence 8, and living at the same address were two grand-daughters, Laura 4 and Florence 3 months, origins unknown to us. Jesse was thus about 23 when she married Henry Palmer. Her family was linked to branches in Pontypridd, Glamorganshire, where Stacey was a very common name. Their first child, Richard Henry was born in Winkleigh on 31st March 1904, followed by 4 further children – Elsie on 15th February 1908 in Winkleigh, Percy Arthur 2nd May 1910 in South Molton, Evelyn Maud 5th June 1913 in Pontypridd, and Ann on 28th March 1916 in Bromyard. (Document 10). The dates and locations are significant to the story.

      The marriage, however, seems to have been rather a disaster, poverty an obvious clue to the trouble. The 1911 census reveals that Jessie and her children - Richard, Elsie, Percy – and another child (Helena) May Palmer, aged 11, born in 1900 at Eggesford and so far not accounted for, were all living in the Union Workhouse in South Molton. (One interesting fact here is that the workhouse return lists Jessie as an epileptic.) Clearly, Percy had been born in the workhouse which means that Jesse and the family had been living there at least some time before May 1910. Meanwhile Henry’s whereabouts in 1911 are a mystery. The family must also have returned to Winkleigh at some time because the ‘Western Times’ reported on the 5th January 1912 that Henry Palmer was now in serious trouble, deserting his wife and children to go to Wales (most likely Pontypridd) and thus forcing them to return to the workhouse in South Molton. He was sentenced to two months hard labour, which of course meant that it was quite possible that he would lose the precious army pension. The full story appears as Document 5. We do not know whether the family remained in the workhouse while Henry served his sentence, or indeed were there still in October.

      If Jesse had left the workhouse and taken the children to Pontypridd, she would have been there in 1912 when Henry was in trouble again. At least we know from the next episode that his pension had not been taken from him. The cottage on Church Hill would have been extremely small although Henry and Jesse must have been together somewhere around September 1912 in Winkleigh or in Pontypridd because Evelyn was born in June 1913 in Pontypridd. Meanwhile, on 1st October 1912 The Western Times reported another felony. On 29th September 1912 Henry was caught, together with Thomas Davey also living on Church Hill, stealing chickens from Mrs. Molland of Luxton Farm, probably the two of them on a poaching expedition. The summons is reported as Document 6. Henry was lucky to be fined: he was spared being sent again to prison (a likely outcome) because as reported in court, this would have finally meant the loss of his pension, which with a wife and 3 children on his hands would have been extremely serious.

      There is now a blank period from October 1912 to 11th May 1917 (Documents 7 and 8) when he was called up for a medical having volunteered to rejoin the army, pending a recall under conscription. Obviously keen not to be conscripted into the infantry he was able as a volunteer to choose instead the Royal Engineers, and as thus he is entered in the Winkleigh Roll of Honour. The medical took place on 24th May 1917. On that date Henry and the family were living in No.2 house, 8 Court, Pritchett Street, Birmingham. From now on it seems as if this address was to be the family home, and certainly Henry always recorded his wife and children being there.

      Henry’s Attestation (Documents 9 and 10) shows that as a second precaution against the possibility of service in the infantry, he lied about his age, claiming to be 46 and 154 days (in fact he was 37). (Document 13b. his Protection Certificate, records that he had given his age of birth as 1872) The children are listed and Elsie’s birthplace is now stated as Worlington, North Devon, rather than Winkleigh. On 12th July he signed the oath. As a volunteer returning to the army after discharge, Henry had requested to serve in the Royal Engineers, numbered 365537, and was posted to the R.E. depot at Sandwich.

      Henry’s war-time career is outlined: ‘The Long Trail’ web-site gives the details of the work of the R.E. in the Great War. ‘The war of 1914-1918 relied on engineering. Without the Royal Engineers there would have been no supply to the armies, because the RE's maintained the railways, roads, water supply, bridges and transport. RE's also operated the railways and inland waterways. There would have been no communications, because the RE's maintained the telephones, wireless and other signalling equipment. There would have been little cover for the infantry and no positions for the artillery, because the RE's designed and built the front-line fortifications. It fell to the technically skilled RE's to develop responses to chemical and underground warfare. And finally, without the RE's the infantry and artillery would have soon been powerless, as they maintained the guns and other weapons. Little wonder that the Royal Engineers grew into a large and complex organisation.’

      Home (i.e. the UK) 12.7.17 to 18.9.17, France and Italy from 19.9.17 to 25.3.19, then Home from 26.3.19 to demobilisation on 9.6.20. He was posted to The Inland Waterways and Docks Companies, both at home and in Italy. Document 11 gives us further details. In July to September Henry was assigned to the Labour Corps, to work on the Inland Waterways, improving and clearing a system which was taking much more use in wartime. Document 13a records his Identity Certificate. This was followed by a posting as a ‘remustered’ Sapper in the R.E. to Italy as a stevedore working in a dockyard, embarking from the UK on 19th September 1917 and returning on 26th March 1919. During this time he had been granted 14 days leave, from 31st August 1918, soon after being promoted to acting Cpl. (paid) from 12th July 1918.

      Italy was a forgotten front indeed: British troops were sent to Italy to stop the collapse in late 1917 of the Italian army after their defeat at Caporetto on the upper reaches of the River Isonzo, and the retreat back to the River Piave. Stiffened with this support the Austrian and German advance was held and Venice saved. This movement was a brainchild of David Lloyd George, against the wishes of the 'Westerners' in the High Command. The Royal Engineers Companies in Italy at the time were the 8th (Monmouth) Army troops Company, half 32 Base Park Company, and a detachment of a Special Works Company, so presumably Henry was attached to one of these units. Henry left Italy on the 19th March 1919 to begin the journey back to the UK, arriving on the 26th March to rejoin the 188 Labour Company. Document 12 shows us that he was now ‘remustered’ into 188 company, Labour Corps until his demobilisation on 9th June 1920.

      Before Henry’s departure from Italy, the post-war General Election had been held on Saturday 14 December 1918 and it was necessary to give all troops serving overseas an ‘absent voters certificate’, (Document 13c), and his registration index (Document 23), bearing in mind that this was the very first time that universal male suffrage had been introduced. Women over 30 were also enfranchised, in recognition of the outstanding part they had played in the war.

      Demobilisation brought with it with it the prospect of returning to his wife and children in Birmingham, whom he had been supporting with his army pay. Now he was faced with no settled job to go to, and unemployment high among ex-servicemen, particularly among the last groups to be demobilised. This was hardly ‘the land fit for heroes’ that had been promised to the troops by Lloyd George at the election. The army, however, offered the prospect of peace time service to those few who were useful and who wished to stay on after the war, and Henry was obviously only too pleased to take the opportunity of remaining with 188 Labour Company. Army bureaucracy meant that he had to go through the process of returning home, demobilisation, re-enlistment, another attestation and re-numbering. Document 13 tells the story: discharged on 4th June 1919, Henry had already signed up for re-enlistment on 10th May 1919. True to army bureaucracy he was given a ‘Protection Certificate’ (Document 13b) handed to all demobilised servicemen as proof of their service to local authorities and potential employers.

      He was hoping to sign on for at least another two years (the most that he was offered), as he moved straight on from the Fovant demobilisation camp, to which he had returned from France, to the recruiting office in Birmingham where he re-attested on 5th June. Re-enlistment therefore meant another round of Attestation, and this took place on 5th June 1919 in Birmingham. (Document 14). Still claiming to be 6 years younger than he was (he could hardly alter the story now though he deleted it by one year!) and recoded as 508944 Pioneer R.E., originally enlisted into the Inland Waterways Transport section, he is described (Document 15) as of a ‘sallow complexion’, having acquired a tattoo on both the right forearm and the right hand, and declared ‘fit for the army’, with a new number 696343 in the Labour Corps. Document 17 summarises his service: Home at the Fovant depot from the 5th June 1919 to 30th June 1919, with the BEF in Ypres from 1st July 1919 to 20th September 1920, and back home again from 25th September 1920 to his discharge on 4th November, total 1 year and 103 days. As usual Jesse is mentioned and the children listed.

      In the post-war army Henry was once again ‘at home’, although his medical category had been reduced from BII to BIII. Using the Documents we can see (without the benefit of a war diary of 188 Labour Company, which sadly no longer exists) what he was doing following a posting from the depot to 168 Labour Company on 1st July 1919. (Document 16) He was stationed at Ypres, where the unit was engaged in combing the battlefields for the war dead, and digging graves in the new cemetery plots, the beginning of the process which was completed by the construction of the beautiful cemeteries that today preserve our most important memories of the World War. It is very good to know that a Winkleigh man was there to make a contribution to that great enterprise.

      The winter of 1919-1920 was cold and wet, and working in the open and devastated ruins and mud of the Salient was obviously bad for anyone’s health. The battle detritus, the putrefied corpses and the danger of unexploded ordinance must have been horrific. By the end of January Henry was in need of a warmer and more comfortable occupation, and on 27th January 1920 he was appointed paid Acting/Cpl. and employed as a company cook. Frequent breaks from the work were a necessity. During these times he twice received generous home leave (a great luxury after the experience of war-time service): 14 days 24.11.19 – 8.12.19 pre-Christmas leave, and another 14 days 16.2.20 – 30.2.20. Documents 18a and 18b show army bureaucracy at work: someone on ‘staff’ had spotted a discrepancy. Was Henry’s promotion on 1st April 1920 to Acting/Cpl. because of a vacancy on the establishment or was it an unauthorised promotion for which a special request should have been made? Henry was reduced once more, but soon made up again on 9th April 1920.

      Documents 20 and 21 give the full story of Henry’s post-war service On 3th June 1920 he volunteered to stay on longer, hoping for the full two years extended service offered. Document 18 carries us into the next stage of the story. On 9th April he was posted from 188 Coy to the Labour Corps General Reserve prior to demobilisation, and then on to F Company, where he had to resort to Private, but only for a day as he was immediately promoted again to Paid Cpl. Still in ‘F’ Coy, and still at Ypres, on 30th June 1920 he volunteered to stay on until 31st December, the maximum time that would be allowed under the two years extended service regulations, and to Henry’s obvious satisfaction this was granted. 14 days Home Leave was granted 14.7.20 – 28.7.20. Document 21 shows, however, the hope of staying on until the end of the year did not materialise. On 24th September he was registered as ‘Surplus to Requirements’ and sent back to the UK for discharge. As far as the army was concerned a 46 year old man with a BIII medical classification was no longer required for battlefield clearance: falsifying his age might have seemed a good idea in 1917 but now it told against him. Yet Henry had done well, and it is gratifying to read that on this document his character is assessed as ‘very good’. Document 19 shows Henry (army number 696343) proceeding from the 168 Labour Company to No.6 Camp at Calais, then on to Park Royal Camp, Willesden for discharge on 25th September 1920.

      Document 22 shows the notification of Henry’s transfer to the reserve. Henry was now a civilian, but unlike the vast majority of those who played their part in the Great War, an unwilling one. He had served since demobilisation in 1919 a further 1 year and 123 days in the army. He was awarded the Victory and British medals to add to his Boer War Silver War Medal, and with these encouragements he moved on into his post-war life. He certainly returned to Birmingham: Document 24 shows his medals being sent to the Pritchett Street address on 20th March 1922, and we have the hint of the death of a Henry Palmer in 1934. In 1920 he was still only 40 years old but a veteran with many memories - of the Boer War and the slaughter at Wagon Hill which brought him acclaim in the village, of his time on the waterways, in Italy and post-war clearing the battlefields at Ypres. There were the ups and downs of his life, and domestic troubles, and one hopes he found happiness and work now his army life was over. Winkleigh was proud of him for the service he gave his country, and because his name is inscribed on the Roll of Honour we can continue to be proud of him still.



16 July 2011

[Top] Back to MEMORIAL CROSS


































































logo

Click on an image for a larger picture


Doc1


Doc2


Doc3


Doc4


Doc5


Doc6


Doc7


Doc8


Doc9


Doc10


Doc11


Doc12


Doc13


Doc14


Doc1


Doc15


Doc16


Doc17


Doc18


Doc19


Doc20


Doc21


Doc22


Doc23


Doc24


Medal Card


RELATED TOPICS
1st Battalion
Devonshire Regiment
at Wagon Hill, 6 Jan 1900