Herbert Alfred Armes

Herbert Alfred Armes
Born in St Ives in 1899. Herbert was fourth eldest in a family of five boys and one girl. His father was a butcher. In 1901 they were living at 8 Victoria Terrace, St Ives, although three of the children were with their aunt and uncle in Bridge Street.

Herbert's father died in November 1907, aged 39yrs. By 1911 Herbert's mother, Rosetta, was publican at The New Crown. She took over the licence from James Armes, possibly her brother-in-law, who had been the licensee since 1890. The pub was situated on the corner of London Road and Hemingford Road. The private house that was the pub, and the junction itself, are both called Armes Corner. All the children were still with their mother. Eldest brother Walter had taken over his father's butchery business.

Herbert was something of a sportsman. At the Enderby Sports Day on 11 July 1913 he was  joint winner of the men's wheelbarrow race and three-legged race, and outright winner of the men's one mile handicap race, running from scratch.

Herbert was compulsorily conscripted when he turned 18yrs in February 1917, attached to the 6th Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment. The Government had pledged to employ soldiers under 19yrs on duties away from combat, so he didn't move to the Front until January 1918.

Battle of the Somme 1918
British soldiers defend trenches in the second Battle of the Somme
The Regiment's 1918 war diary shows Herbert had experienced several relatively quiet weeks in the trenches from mid February to mid March, along with periods in reserve. On 23 March the Germans launched a major offensive, the first of the 1918 Battle of the Somme. The trenches became a murderous place, particularly from the beginning of April. On the morning of Monday 8 April 1918 Herbert was killed by a German shell that exploded in the trenches. He was aged 19yrs and had lasted less than ten weeks. Two officers and seven other ranks were killed that day beside Herbert, as well as one officer and nine other ranks wounded.

Herbert is buried in Gommecourt British Cemetery No 2, near H├ębuterne. The family paid quite a heavy price in WWI. Both Thomas and Reginald were discharged from the Army as a result of injuries. Walter managed to appeal against call up, but at the time of Herbert's death was also serving in the Forces.

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Source materials
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