Herbert Edward Puckering

Herbert Edward Puckering
Born in 1885 in Battersea, London to George Frederick and Alice Jane (née Garlick), Herbert's surname was shown in some records as Pickering. That's not the only confusion over his details. In school admission registers Herbert's birth date varies, even his middle name. Between ages 5 and 10 yrs Herbert moved home three times within London and registered to three different schools.

Some time after 1890 Herbert's mother remarried. There must have been further turbulence in his early teenage life. On 7 September 1898 he was admitted to Greenwich Union Workhouse as destitute, aged 13yrs. By 1901 he was 'under detention until 16 years of age' aboard the Industrial School Ship 'Shaftesbury', anchored in the River Thames off Grays. Reserved for dealing with problem boys such as persistent truants, Herbert was one of four hundred boys who slept in hammocks, spent half of the day in basic classroom education, the other half training on nautical topics and practical skills such as boot making and carpentry.

Herbert was a career soldier, enlisting at age 16yrs with the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment in 1901. In 1909 he married Ellen Louisa Payne. Although Ellen came from St Ives, they married at Dover. By 1911 they had a son, George, and lived at Prospect Place, St Ives. A further two children were born. In 1911 Herbert left the Army.

Re-enlisting at the beginning of the War, Herbert served as a Sergeant with the 6th Battalion, Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment). Landing in France in June 1915, he survived almost two years of the fiercest trench warfare.

The Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)
Soldiers of The Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment in the front trenches
On the evening of 30 March 1917 Herbert and his Battalion were relieved from duty in the front trenches, By 7.00pm they had moved into billets in Arras. On Saturday 31 March 1917 they were training. The war diary records the day in just two lines of text, part of which states 'Casualties 1 OR killed, 3 ORs wounded.' Herbert was the other rank killed, dying instantly when hit by a German shell as he came out of his billet. He was aged 31yrs and is buried at Faubourg D'Amiens Cemetery, France. Herbert left behind a widow and three young children. His death was reported in the Hunts Post of 11 May 1917.

No comments:

Post a Comment